As so many of us strive for that prized eight hours of sleep per night, new research suggests that we may be focused on the wrong facet of rest, at least when it comes to our cognitive health.
We already know that sleep is essential for Alzheimer’s prevention. However, a recent study conducted by the Washington University School of Medicine may have found a way to catch the disease much earlier on.
Researchers followed 119 participants over the age of 60 for six nights of sleep, and what they found was that participants with fewer occurrences of deep sleep, as characterized by their brain waves, produced higher levels of a certain brain protein called tau. Elevated levels of tau in the central nervous system have been linked with Alzheimer’s or other forms of brain damage.
Seeing that almost all of the study participants were registered as cognitively normal, these findings have huge implications for catching Alzheimer’s before the traditional symptoms of memory impairment and disorientation arise. In fact, cognitive degeneration related to dementia can begin to take hold through proteins like tau up to two decades before symptoms appear.
So what does this all mean? It means that preserving sleep quality is an essential part of living a healthy lifestyle and protecting your brain health long into the future. Here are a few tips on catching those Z’s: