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Can Sleep Prevent Alzheimer's in Later Life?

Bed Guru explore how science recently proved sleep to reduce the risk and impact of Alzheimer's disease...

20th May, 2016
by Carl Walsh

Too many of us know someone who suffers with Alzheimer's disease. Parents, grandparents, siblings - it's the most common form of dementia. One person is diagnosed with the incurable condition every three minutes in the UK. 

New scientific research has highlighted an important discovery. If, like us, you caught last week’s episode of BBC Horizon, you’ll know what we’re talking about.

The episode saw Professor Mathew Walker from the University of California explain that regular deep sleep throughout your lifetime can significantly reduce your chance of developing Alzheimer’s.

It’s huge news. He even went so far as to say that a good night's sleep can help those already suffering with the condition. Sleeping is like hitting the save button on your memories, he said, so it can potentially help those with Alzheimer’s regain their damaged memory and learning abilities.

He explained, "We wanted to explore whether that sleep deterioration in aging and in Alzheimer's disease is not simply a symptom of the process, but perhaps a cause of the underlying memory problems". His research has already proven that those of us getting eight hours of continuous sleep while we're young, in our 30s, 40s and 50s, are at lower risk of Alzheimer's.

Professor Walker isn’t alone in his claim, as various medical experts say as much in the same BBC programme. Their research mirrors neuroscientist Jeff Lliff’s exact same hypothesis – his ‘One more reason to get a good night’s sleep’ TED talk has been watched three million times and counting, since 2014. We highly recommend it.

Of course, there are several other factors involved in developing Alzheimer’s, but if minimising your risk is as easy as catching forty winks, as these medical professionals assume - why wouldn’t you give yourself the best chance to catch them? It’s as easy as having a good mattress.

To simplify the science, our brains produce waste during the day, a protein called Amyloid-beta. If it’s left to build up over the decades, it could eventually clump together and block information passing between the synapses in our brain. Poor quality sleep isn’t known to cause Alzheimer’s, but the disease-affected brains are damaged by Amyloid-beta build up too.

Unlike every other cell in our bodies, whose waste is cleared by our lymphatic system, our brains have a unique way of ‘cleaning’ themselves, which only happens during the deepest stage of sleep.

The small gaps between your neurons expand while you’re snoozing, filling with spinal fluid to flush the toxins, like Amyloid-beta, out of your brain. Sleeping is the only way to keep your brain healthy and in tip-top condition. That’s why it feels so refreshing.

These latest discoveries in Alzheimer’s research highlight the importance of sleep and getting a great night’s sleep – something we are dedicated to here at Bed Guru.

Good sleep is essential to your health and happiness, making your mattress one of the most important investments you’ll make. If you want any help finding the right mattress or bed base, don’t hesitate to get in touch, we’re always happy to talk sleep.

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