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Sleeping Habits And Your Memory

Your sleep patterns might be linked to memory loss as you age, according to a recent study by the American Academy of Neurology. Sleeping in fragments, as opposed to getting a full night’s rest of about 7-8 hours, negatively affects the brain’s ability to build memories. “Disrupted sleep appears to be associated with the build-up of amyloid plaques, a hallmark marker of Alzheimer’s disease, in the brains of people without memory problems,” said study author Yo-El Ju, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Washington University School of Medicine. She also stated that "more study is needed" to determine whether lack of sleep causes Alzheimer's, or if it is just one factor.

Dr. Ju says sleep should be a priority, no matter your family history of Alzheimer's. "We don't value sleep as much as we should. Sleep is a very important function that allows the brain to rest," Dr. Ju advises. The study findings were simple: people, who woke up more than five times per hour and those with less efficient sleeping habits, were more prone to have amyloid plaque build-up compared to people who did not wake up as often. Amyloid plaque is a type of protein that is often found in the brain of Alzheimer's patients. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer's, and experts say that 1 in 85 people will be affected with the disease by 2050.

The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) reports that approximately 40 million people suffer from an estimated 70 types of sleep disorders and 60 percent of adults report having sleep problems a few nights a week or more often.

Here are some tricks to help you improve your sleep. Your bed should be associated with relaxing time. Avoid having arguments, eating or working in it. Right before going to sleep, play relaxing music or even try listening to a guided meditation DVD. Also do not sleep with pets or small children in your bed. They can be very disruptive at night. Keep your room as dark as possible. If street light sneaks up at night, invest in light blocking curtains. Your brain reacts to light, so the darker, the better! Finally try to create a bed schedule and go to sleep around the same time every night.

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