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What Contributes to Dementia? How Sleep and Other Factors Affect Alzheimer’s Disease.

Considering there are 5.7 million people in the United States currently living with Alzheimer’s disease, it is more important than ever to find ways that we can help reduce our risk of developing it. And despite the billions of dollars spent to try and develop a definitive cure for Alzheimer’s there still isn’t a single drug that has succeeded; in part due to the fact that Alzheimer’s is a complex disease fueled by many different contributing factors. Read on to discover a few of the things that contribute to Alzheimer’s disease and what you can do now to help reduce your risk.

Holes in the Roof

As we’ve written before, a brain with Alzheimer’s disease is much like a leaky roof with 50 holes in it. Many “miracle drugs” have failed because they only addressed one part of the problem; they only tried to patch one hole. Things like genetics, medications, hormone and nutrient deficiencies, sleep, diet, and others all contribute to Alzheimer’s disease. Many of these things can be treated, helping to “patch the holes” early.

Sleep Deprivation and Dementia

What’s one important factor that we can control? Quality sleep. Recent research has shown that sleep deprivation increases the levels of tau tangles in the brain, and that “good sleeping habits may help preserve brain health.” Tau tangles are often associated with Alzheimer’s disease and can build up, causing problems.

“In people with Alzheimer’s disease, tau tangles tend to emerge in parts of the brain important for memory – the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex – and then spread to other brain regions. As tau tangles mushroom and more areas become affected, people increasingly struggle to think clearly.” – Science Daily

In one study, losing just one night of sleep led to an increase in beta-amyloid, another protein in the brain associated with cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s.

Another study suggests that quality of sleep is much more important than quantity.

“The key is that it wasn’t the total amount of sleep that was linked to tau, it was the slow-wave sleep, which reflects quality of sleep.” – Medical News Today

Be sure to consider how you can improve the quality of your sleep and not just the quantity. For helpful tips on how to sleep better as you age, visit our previous post here.

Other Factors: Genetics and Cognitive Reserve

Did you know that your genetics can influence your risk for Alzheimer’s? Having the Apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) gene, for example, increases the risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease. However, having this gene doesn’t mean the person will definitely get it. Genetic tests are available to find out whether you carry this gene.

Another thing you can do to decrease your risk of developing Alzheimer’s? Keep your mind sharp and active. Through education and learning new things continually, you can improve your “cognitive reserve”, a concept that demonstrates your mind’s ability to improvise and accomplish tasks. Finding fun ways (that you actually enjoy) to learn new things can help keep your mind fresh and active, which can help decrease your risk of dementia.

Want More Structure?

Sleep, genetics, and brain activity are all important factors of cognitive health, but there are many more. Other things like exercise, diet, and hormones play an important role as well. If you are interested in a more structured program to help reduce your risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease, or if you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s and want help tackling the many contributing factors of Alzheimer’s, we invite you to learn more about the Enhance Protocol. This Alzheimer’s treatment protocol works to patch all of the “holes in the roof” at once and is administered to our residents, their families, and others. Visit our site or call us today for more information.

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