Sleep To Live Healthier

Amongst other health concerns, Ageing is also coupled with sleep related issues. Most people take it lightly and ignore it. But it has a direct bearing and impact on our Health and increases the risk of dementia.

Dementia which is often called as "memory loss" is a chronic disorder of mental processes caused either by brain disease or an injury to the brain. It is characterised by memory impairment, personality transitions and fragmented (weakened-disturbed) reasoning.

The association between "Dementia and Poor Sleep" is mostly considered to be two-way. Researchers have varied opinions around this relationship. Some researchers believe that insufficient sleep might increase the chances of dementia while others have observed that dementia leads to poor sleep pattern.

Sleep Disorders:

Let's delve deeper into sleep disorders to understand these relationships better

  • Light Sleep Disorders: Dementia is often closely associated with light sleep disorders. This is also referred to as RBD, rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder. This is characterised by people talking or moving in sleep.
  • DLB, Dementia with Lewy Bodies: This variant of dementia has common symptoms with both Alzheimer's and Parkinson's and is commonly associated with light sleep disorder.

Research revelations are indicative of light sleep disorders as early symptoms of dementia with lewy bodies especially among ageing males. Other studies indicate the other way round, that is, the damaged and impacted brain in case of dementia with lewy bodies may cause light sleep disorders.

Sleep-wake cycle (Body-Clock) disorders:

This is another kind of sleep disorder which is associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Typically the sleep-wake cycle is our 24-hours cycle or body clock where we are active during the day and sleepy at night. When this body clock is disturbed, we experience issues like lack of sleep at night and drowsiness during the day. Such disturbed sleep patterns are associated with Alzheimer's as well as Parkinson's disease.

Studies indicate that the association between sleep-wake cycle (24-hours body clock) and Alzheimer's disease might be because of amyloid, a protein attributed to Alzheimer's. Increased secretion of amyloid is often found among patients of Alzheimer's and might be directly associated with poor sleep. Also, inappropriate sleep might affect the system's ability to flush out toxic protein amyloid from the brain.

Disordered breathing during Sleep:

This occurs when one experiences difficulty in breathing while sleeping. It is also called as ""Sleep Apnea" and is often observed in obese older adults. This might lead to damaging the brain owing to transitions in Oxygen (O2) and Carbon dioxide (CO2) levels in the blood. It can also impact the blood flow to the brain. Hence an improved sleep pattern might lower the risk of dementia.

Tips for healthy sleep pattern:

  • Setting up internal body clock - follow a fixed sleep pattern by sleeping and waking up at the same time.
  • Sleep when tired and wake up by giving adequate rest to the body without setting up alarms.
  • In order to make up for a late night or pending sleep, take a day time nap
  • Confine napping to just 15-20 mins in early noon
  • Spend time in bright sunlight in the morning hours
  • Spend time outdoors in the fresh air
  • Keep your indoors aerated with fresh air by opening windows etc
  • Follow an active regime during day time
  • Exercise regularly
  • Avoid screen time, 1-2 hrs before bedtime