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alzheimer's prevention sleep

Lowering the Risk of Alzheimer’s and Dementia: the Importance of Sleep

To help caregivers learn more about Alzheimer’s prevention through sleep, The Kensington White Plains hosted How to Get Good ZZZ’s Now and Reduce Chances of Dementia Later. Dr. Steven A Thau, MD, and Dementia Coach Kerry Mills Rutland, MPA, MCHC, discussed the importance of good sleep hygiene, sleep disorders, and devices that one may need to help them sleep. 

We all know that sleep plays an important role in the health of our mind, body, and soul. Without proper sleep, we become susceptible to many diseases and health problems. You would think that most adults would get their recommended seven to nine hours of sleep every night with that knowledge. But, that is usually not the case. 

While sleep is essential for countless reasons, the role it plays in brain functioning is worth discussing. Research and studies continue to show that poor sleep is linked to Alzheimer’s and dementia development. 

Keep reading to learn more about how good sleep can impact the onset of dementia.

Sleep protects the brain 

Our brains are known to produce a “waste” called beta-amyloid. Missing out on sleep causes our brains to accumulate this protein, which leads to a build-up on the brain. Tau, another protein found in the brain, is also linked to a lack of sleep and the development of Alzheimer’s.

Seniors with Alzheimer’s that receive MRIs will show amyloid plaques and tangles from an excessive amount of tau. MRIs are also able to show doctors what is going on in the brain while we are asleep. During sleep, the waste our brains produce during the day (amyloid and tau) are cleared out every 20 seconds. 

Anyone who has had a bad night of sleep knows that you feel sluggish, and your thinking and functioning are impaired the following day. Our bodies and brains need a specific amount of sleep each night to recharge and repair themselves. Through sleep, toxins are removed, and memories are consolidated.

While missing an occasional night of sleep or a brief period of insomnia will likely not lead to Alzheimer’s or a memory disease, it can if sleeping problems persist. It is essential that adults, especially seniors, discuss sleeping problems with their physicians. Getting the recommended amount of sleep each night can protect you in the long run. 

For those already suffering from memory loss or Alzheimer’s, sleep is vital in regulating emotions and possibly slowing down symptoms. While Alzheimer’s cannot be reversed, the proper amount of sleep will help seniors enjoy life-enrichment activities and have fewer emotional disturbances throughout the day. 

How to promote adequate sleep

Sleep issues are pretty common for adults 65 years and older. With that said, there are ways to help seniors get a good night’s sleep. Before looking into sleeping aids, which may have some adverse side effects, there are other things to try. 

One thing that some memory care communities do is help seniors develop good sleep habits. This is usually done by ensuring a senior develops a bedtime routine, such as taking a bath or listening to soothing music before sleep and then getting into bed at the same time each night. Creating a sleep schedule is essential when trying to promote good sleep. 

Aside from a sleep schedule, it may also help if a senior is only offered caffeine in the morning or early afternoon, or if caffeine is eliminated from the diet completely. Drinking caffeinated drinks too late in the day can make it harder for someone to sleep at night. 

Eating a nutritional diet can also help. Eating healthy foods promotes good sleep and better brain functioning. Some foods make it more difficult to sleep, while others promote great quality sleep. Eating too late at night can also impact sleep quality. At The Kensington White Plains Alzheimer’s and dementia care neighborhoods, the Director of Dining, Chef Norm, serves dishes full of nutrition and great taste

Alzheimer’s prevention through sleep

Sleep is a critical factor in reducing the risk of developing memory diseases such as Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. The brain needs to heal itself each night during a cleansing process that affects areas of the brain associated with memory consolidation, such as the Hippocampus and Thalamus.

While senior’s memories are typically one of the first things to go when they develop a memory disease, their emotions, behaviors, and lifestyles will change as well — each is a side effect of the memory disease. 

In addition to sleep, these other factors can help seniors reduce the risks of dementia:

  • Healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Talk therapy
  • Being socially active
  • Memory games, card games, and board games
  • Avoid smoking
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Reminiscence therapy

Seniors living in assisted living communities or memory care communities will typically be offered the previously mentioned therapies and encouraged to engage in social activities, while also maintaining a healthy routine that includes exercise, quality meals, and proper sleep. This is why as seniors age, it can be beneficial to transition them to a community where they will have opportunities to thrive and maintain their health.  

It can be challenging to care for a senior loved one, especially if they are beginning to show signs of memory loss. Fortunately, loving communities are willing to help. 

The Kensington White Plains’ Promise

The Kensington White Plains offers exceptional services that are provided by compassionate and well-trained staff. If you’re ready to start researching assisted living or memory care communities, we are here for you.

Our Promise at The Kensington White Plains is to love and care for your family as we do our own. We know how important your senior loved one is to you and that you want to make the best decisions for them. 

We provide our residents with a fun and social environment that promotes well-being and happiness, while also offering comfort, assistance, and multiple types of therapy. We want your loved one to thrive and maintain their health just as much as you. 

Contact us today if you are interested in hearing more about our beautiful and cozy memory care neighborhoods.


Further Reading:

To learn more about our exceptional assisted living and memory care at The Kensington White Plains, click below or give us a call today for any questions. We promise to love and care for your family, as we do our own.


Recommended Additional Reading:

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