May 03, 2022

The Importance of Good Sleep for Brain Health

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While there’s no definitive cause of Alzheimer’s and other forms of dementia that plague so many seniors, there are some steps we can take to help lower our risk.

Most of those things are naturally things we do while awake—eating healthier foods, getting regular exercise, and maintaining close personal relationships. But we can also help our brains out while we sleep too.

Centers Health Care has a look at the sleep habits you should get into now to help lower your risk of memory problems down the road.

Aim to Get to Sleep by 10 p.m.

Getting to bed by 10 p.m. allows your body to get around three hours of slow-wave sleep (SWS). Studies have found that SWS clears toxins that are known to cause dementia away from your brain, and it also helps your brain create stronger memories.

Our natural body clock, however, prevents SWS from taking place past around 1 a.m. or so, and experts say to aim for at least three hours of SWS per night to get its full benefits.

Don’t Worry if You Wake Up Earlier

If you’re in bed by 10, as you get older, you may notice that you’re waking up around 6 a.m. and feeling fully rested. You only need around seven to eight hours of sleep once you get into your 60s, so if you’re getting around that amount and feeling alert throughout the day, the amount of sleep you’re getting is on target.

Watch Blood Pressure

The American Heart Association recently reported that hypertension (high blood pressure) is a major risk factor for dementia and overall cognitive decline. And while you’re at it, don’t rely on a glass of wine or other alcohol at night to fall asleep. While it may help you get to sleep, you are more likely to wake up during the night after a drink, and regular alcohol consumption can also lead to high blood pressure.

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