Experts warn that it just takes ONE sleepless night to dramatically increase your risk of Alzheimer’s

The health-conscious do their best to eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, minimize stress, and sleep well. But they may not live to a happy old age if they have trouble sleeping.

A research team headed by Dr. Ehsan Shokri-Kojori, from the U.S. National Institutes of Health found that just one sleepless night significantly raised levels of the dangerous protein beta-amyloid in the body. The build-up of this toxic protein is said to be responsible for the most common form of dementia.

The research team performed brain scans on 20 healthy volunteers after they slept an average of 7.3 hours, and following a sleepless night. The researchers measured the concentrations of beta-amyloid in the volunteers’ brains. They discovered that levels of this toxic protein rose by five percent in areas of the brain most closely linked with Alzheimer’s. These experts explained that inadequate rest may make it harder for the body to get rid of these toxins.

Writing in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Dr. Shokri-Kojori said that their findings stress the importance of good sleep hygiene for proper brain function. He added that a good night’s sleep can help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.

These findings support earlier research which hinted at a link between poor sleep and impaired brain functions.

Sadly, the number of Alzheimer’s cases is on the rise in U.K., where around 850,000 dementia patients are found. The figure is expected to hit one million within a decade.

Symptoms of Alzheimer’s

Seeing a previously mentally alert loved one’s brain capacity decline due to Alzheimer’s can be painful. That’s why it pays to know the symptoms of Alzheimer’s early. Things to watch out for include:
  • Confusion with time or place – Alzheimer’s patients lose track of dates, seasons, and the passage of time. They sometimes forget where they are or how they got there.
  • Challenges in planning or solving problems – Some people may find it hard to focus, follow a plan and work with numbers. They can’t follow a recipe or keep track of monthly bills. They can’t focus and take longer to do things that they did before.
  • Difficulty finishing common tasks at home, at work, or at leisure –  Alzheimer’s patients find it hard to complete daily tasks. They may have trouble driving to a familiar place, managing a budget, or remembering their favorite game’s rules.
  • Memory loss that gets in the way of daily life– One of the most common signs of Alzheimer’s is forgetting recently-acquired information. Others include forgetting important dates or events, asking the same question over and over, increased dependence on memory aids (e.g. reminder notes or electronic devices) or family members for things they used to do on their own.
  • Problems with written and spoken words – People with Alzheimer’s may have difficulty understanding or joining a conversation. They may stop in the middle of a conversation and don’t know how to continue. They may repeat themselves. They may struggle with vocabulary, finding the right word, or naming things properly. For instance, they may call a watch a hand clock.
  • Trouble grasping visual images and spatial relationships – Some people may have vision problems, like difficulty reading, judging distance, color or contrast. As a result, driving becomes extra hard for them.

Alzheimer’s is scary. But it is preventable. Knowing the symptoms and sleeping well into the night are some of the best ways to keep the disease at bay.

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