How Can Poor Sleep Habits Increase Alzheimer’s Risk?

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Studies from around the world are now showing sleep disorders can increase the risk of Alzheimer’s. This includes daytime sleepiness, general grogginess, insomnia, and poor sleep quality. Here’s a quick look at how these various issues are connected and some steps seniors can take to enhance their sleep habits.

The Brain while Sleeping

Some people think of sleep as a period when the body and mind shut down, but many critical processes take place during this time. All the muscles throughout the body are replenished with new cells, including the brain. 

Some of the proteins that become trapped in the brain throughout the day are also flushed away. When those proteins remain inside the brain, they form larger clumps known as plaques. Studies have shown these plaques can kill brain cells and lead to issues such as Alzheimer’s.

Lack of sleep can lead to a number of health issues in aging adults. If your aging loved one needs help managing everyday tasks or encouragement to adopt healthier lifestyle choices, turn to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of homecare services. Assisting Hands Home Care provides professional in-home caregivers around the clock to help seniors live longer, happier, and healthier lives. 

Studies on Sleep Habits & Alzheimer’s

One of the most prolific studies on the connection between Alzheimer’s and sleep habits was carried out by a research team at Washington University. This team scheduled ongoing tests with healthy adults between the ages of 35 and 65. At two-week intervals, they would ask the participants about their sleep habits and then scan their brains for unusual protein clusters. By the end of the study, the researchers found that a single night of disrupted sleep can increase the quantity and size of those clusters. 

Poor Sleep Habits & Alzheimer’s

Even though these studies seem to draw a clear line between Alzheimer’s and poor sleep, there are many other risk factors to consider. Most experts agree the two biggest risk factors are an individual’s age and genetics. There are also many lifestyle habits that can increase a senior’s risk of developing Alzheimer’s, including smoking, heavy drinking, a lack of exercise, and ongoing exposure to certain chemicals. Those who never challenge their cognitive abilities have much higher rates of Alzheimer’s as well.  

How to Enhance Sleep Habits

Getting plenty of sleep every night is vital to a senior’s health, but a relatively high percentage of older adults experience chronic sleep deprivation. Those who can’t get to sleep at night or feel groggy every morning should schedule appointments with their doctors to make sure there are no underlying medical issues that need to be addressed. They might also want to establish strict nighttime routines they carry out just before bed. A good nighttime routine should include relaxing activities such as taking a warm shower or listening to quiet music. 

If you have a senior loved one who needs help maintaining a high quality of life while aging in place, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of home care Frederick families can trust. Our caregivers help seniors focus on healthy lifestyle habits such as eating nutritious foods, exercising regularly, and maintaining strong social ties, and we offer mentally stimulating activities that can boost cognitive health and delay the onset of dementia. 

Signs of Alzheimer’s Disease

Seniors who are diagnosed with Alzheimer’s in its earliest stages are often able to live long and fulfilling lives. There’s currently no permanent cure for this disease, but many of the worst symptoms can be mitigated with various medications and lifestyle changes. Some seniors are able to boost their cognitive health by sticking to a healthy diet, exercising as much as possible, and challenging their cognitive abilities every day. If your senior loved one has Alzheimer’s and needs help managing daily tasks, reach out to Assisting Hands Home Care, a leading provider of Alzheimer’s care. Frederick Assisting Hands Home Care provides reliable caregivers around the clock to help your loved one age in place safely and comfortably while living with Alzheimer’s disease. Call one of our friendly Care Managers today to learn more about our customized care plans.