The most critical habit for keeping Alzheimer’s symptoms at bay

Here’s the common wisdom about Alzheimer’s disease.

It’s caused by excessive amounts of two proteins in the brain: β-amyloid and tau.

An “amyloid cascade” is thought to start with an abnormal increase of β-amyloid protein in the brain, which triggers “tau tangles.”

Once this happens, neurons begin to die, memory and cognition start to falter, and eventually, Alzheimer’s sets in.

But is this truly an inevitable sequence of events?

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Alzheimer’s is NOT inevitable

A recent study from UC Berkeley shows how some people appear to stave off the memory and cognitive impairment of Alzheimer’s disease, even when their levels of amyloid-beta proteins are relatively high.

When I read this research, the name Matthew Walker sounded familiar, and it didn’t take me long to figure out why.

Dr. Walker is a professor of neuroscience and the director of the Center for Human Sleep Science at University of California, Berkeley. He is also senior author of the present study.

A few years ago, I wrote about Dr. Walker and his thoughts about the importance of sleep, especially for the elderly.

In the present study, Dr. Walker and his colleagues prove that deep sleep can stop the brain changes signaling the onset of the “amyloid cascade,” and preserve memory and cognition.

Deep sleep is the answer

Dr. Walker and researchers from Stanford University and UC Irvine looked at 62 cognitively healthy adults.

Regardless of subjects’ education or physical activity (two factors known to improve cognitive resilience in old age), people who already had Alzheimer’s-associated brain changes performed better on memory function tests when they got more deep sleep.

Interestingly, deep sleep made little difference in memory function for people who did not have the same brain changes — in other words, the positive effect was restricted to those who had Alzheimer-related brain changes.

“Think of deep sleep almost like a life raft that keeps memory afloat, rather than memory getting dragged down by the weight of Alzheimer’s disease pathology,” Dr. Walker says.

“This is especially exciting because we can do something about it. There are ways we can improve sleep, even in older adults.”

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How to get better sleep

Deep sleep is like the slow cycle on your washing machine. It washes away β-amyloid plaque.

So how do you get not just more sleep, but more deep sleep?

Ventilate your sleep space.  Earlier this year, a team of Danish scientists showed that a higher rate of ventilation can remove more carbon dioxide and particulate matter (pollution) from a room, allowing for better sleep.

Take a warm bath before bed. This brings more blood to the surface of your skin. According to Dr. Walker, this effect, known as water-based passive body heating, can increase deep sleep.

Here are some other things you can try:

  • Get enough vitamin from your diet (eggs, salmon, dairy products) or from supplements.
  • Expose yourself to morning sunlight so your body’s sleep clock can reset itself.
  • Move every day! Walking, yoga, and stretching are all good ways to do this; just do it earlier in the day.
  • Avoid alcohol, caffeine, and spicy foods 4-6 hours before bed. Try a light bedtime snack, like warm milk or a banana.
  • Keep phone and computer screens out of your bedroom! Instead, try using pink noise to help you get a good night’s sleep.

Editor’s note: Are you feeling unusually tired? You may think this is normal aging, but the problem could be your master hormone. When it’s not working, your risk of age-related diseases skyrockets. To reset what many call “the trigger for all disease” and live better, longer, click here to discover The Insulin Factor: How to Repair Your Body’s Master Controller and Conquer Chronic Disease!


There’s One Critical Thing We Can Do to Keep Alzheimer’s Symptoms at Bay — Science Alert

NREM sleep as a novel protective cognitive reserve factor in the face of Alzheimer’s disease pathology — BMC Medicine

‘Catastrophic’ lack of sleep in modern society is killing us, warns leading sleep scientist — The Independent

Deep sleep may mitigate Alzheimer’s memory loss, Berkeley research shows — Berkeley News

Four-Week Experiment Reveals an Ingeniously Simple Way to Boost Your Sleep Quality — Science Alert

Joyce Hollman

By Joyce Hollman

Joyce Hollman is a writer based in Kennebunk, Maine, specializing in the medical/healthcare and natural/alternative health space. Health challenges of her own led Joyce on a journey to discover ways to feel better through organic living, utilizing natural health strategies. Now, practicing yoga and meditation, and working towards living in a chemical-free home, her experiences make her the perfect conduit to help others live and feel better naturally.