Sleep plays an important role in our overall health, including our cognitive abilities, such as memory. Deep sleep may protect older people with a high beta-amyloid brain load from memory loss, according to a research. In this article we explain the findings of this study as well as how our home GP service in Costa del Sol for people with Alzheimer can help.
The most important stage of sleep is known as deep sleep, and it's characterised by the slowing down of brain waves as well as the resting of the body. During this phase, the body works to restore damaged tissues, bones, and muscles; it also strengthens the immune system and restocks its supply of energy. Memory consolidation is also significantly aided by quality deep sleep, which helps to both strengthen and store newly formed memories. It is the hardest stage to wake up from and is associated with sleep disorders like sleepwalking and bedwetting. According to research, deep sleep improves memory performance by causing the brain to replay and reinforce memories, as well as by moving them from short-term storage to long-term storage. Additionally, it has been observed that certain individuals with high levels of Alzheimer's-related proteins, such as beta-amyloid, can still maintain relatively intact memory function, which led to the concept of cognitive reserve. Cognitive reserve refers to factors that support and protect memory function despite the presence of Alzheimer's-related changes, acting as a buffer against memory impairment.
The study explored the concept of cognitive reserve in relation to sleep and its potential impact on Alzheimer's disease. Factors like education and physical activity throughout a person's life can influence cognitive reserve, but they are not changeable as a person ages. Therefore, the researchers focused on sleep as a modifiable factor that could serve as a cognitive reserve.
In their study, they recruited 62 healthy older adults without dementia, half of whom had high levels of beta-amyloid in their brains. The participants' sleep waves were monitored using an electroencephalography (EEG) machine while they slept in a laboratory. After waking up, they completed a memory task. The results showed that participants with higher levels of beta-amyloid who experienced more deep sleep performed better on the memory test compared to those with similar beta-amyloid levels but poorer sleep.
This finding suggests that deep sleep acts as a cognitive reserve factor, protecting memory even in the presence of beta-amyloid. Dr. Walker likens deep sleep to a life raft that keeps memory afloat, preventing it from being compromised by Alzheimer's disease pathology.
The next step for this research is to investigate interventions that can enhance sleep in older adults and demonstrate its potential as a therapeutic target to improve memory function. Dr. Walker emphasises the importance of prioritising sleep, particularly in older adults, and suggests options like good sleep hygiene, cognitive behavioural therapy for insomnia, and electrical brain stimulation technology to improve sleep quality.
He urges doctors to discuss sleep and its quality with older adults, exploring non-pharmacological approaches to enhance sleep as a preventive measure against memory decline. By harnessing good sleep in midlife and early later adulthood, it may be possible to preserve memory and mitigate the effects of Alzheimer's disease.
Helicopteros Sanitarios provides a specialised Home GP service in Costa del Sol that caters to individuals with Alzheimer's disease. Understanding the unique needs and challenges faced by these patients, the service offers comprehensive medical care within the comfort and familiarity of their own homes. With a team of experienced healthcare professionals, including doctors, nurses, and caregivers, Helicopteros Sanitarios ensures personalised attention and support for individuals with Alzheimer's. By bringing quality healthcare directly to the homes of patients, Helicopteros Sanitarios aims to enhance their well-being, ensure optimal medical management, and provide peace of mind to both patients and their families.