Tag Archives: yawning

Will sleep help prevent dementia?

So it turns out that sleep may not be overrated after all. The amount of sleep you get may have an impact on whether or not you get Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers are beginning to see a more definite link between sleep and beta-amyloid and Alzheimer’s. The beta-amyloid build-up in the brain may lead to a vicious cycle – it disturbs sleep and impairs memory, which can trigger an additional build-up of Beta-amyloid  — the protein that makes up the toxic plaque that is the most common suspect behind Alzheimer’s.

Wayne Owensby is demonstrating a sleep-inducing yawn.
Wayne Owensby is demonstrating a sleep-inducing yawn.

Scientists at the University of California, Berkeley, have found restorative slumber needed to maintain memories is a conduit through which the beta-amyloid protein. Compelling evidence showed that poor sleep may trigger Alzheimer’s disease attacks the brain’s long-term memory.  The risk is particularly great whenever there was a deficit of the deep.

UC Berkeley neuroscience professor Matthew Walker, senior author of the study to be published in the journalNature Neuroscience, said “Our findings reveal a new pathway through which Alzheimer’s disease may cause memory decline later in life”

How it works

When asked how it works, she replied.

“Sleep is helping wash away toxic proteins at night, preventing them from building up and from potentially destroying brain cells,” Walker said. “It’s providing a power cleanse for the brain.”

A recent research study analyzed the sleeping patterns of adults 70 and over. It was conducted by the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The study found that those who slept for shorter amounts of time and had poorer sleep quality. They also had higher levels of Beta-amyloid, a brain plaque that is an indicator of Alzheimer’s. That’s not to say that if you don’t get enough sleep, you’re destined to get Alzheimer’s disease, but there does seem to be a link between the two.

These findings are important in part because sleep disturbances can be treated in older people. To the degree that poor sleep promotes the development of Alzheimer’s disease, treatments for poor sleep or efforts to maintain healthy sleep patterns may help prevent or slow the progression of Alzheimer disease,” said Adam Spira, PhD, lead author of the study and an assistant professor with the Bloomberg School’s Department of Mental Health.  

How can you get more sleep?

Besides avoiding the usual suspects of caffeine and alcohol, there are other practices that can help. The easiest one is yawning and stretching – in fact, it’s so easy that you are probably trying to stifle a yawn right now.

Get a  great going-to-bed routine. Begin by opening your mouth wide to simulate a big yawn. Reach out your arms and give them a good stretch. At first, you’re just going through the motions, but after several yawns and stretches, your body and brain will get the message that it is sleepy time. Then notice what this does to the quality of the sleep that follows. What you will discover is that something about stretching and yawning prepares the body and brain for sleep.

Here’s a video to get you yawning: Contagious Yawning: Why We Do It, What It Shows About Us

I wasn’t aware if my Mama had sleep issues in the early stages of dementia, but sadly, in the late stages of this disease, sleep seems to be one of her superpowers.

Sweet dreams.