I recently read an interesting article about how many older adults are not getting enough sleep each night due to cognitive decline. Current research has shown that disrupted sleep is common later in life and age-related sleep changes have been linked with early signs of Alzheimer’s disease, depression, and cardio-vascular disease.
According to the study 7-8 hours sleep, per night was considered normal; those who reported a short sleep duration -defined as 6 hours or less, had elevated levels of Beta Amyloid, which greatly increases the risk for dementia according to the studies lead author, Joe Winer.
Those with inadequate sleep also performed moderately to significantly worse on tests commonly used on older adults for assessing cognitive abilities. Including orientation, attention, memory, language and visual-spatial skills; and identifying mild dementia.
Sleeping too much was also associated with lesser executive function, but those individuals did not have elevated Beta Amyloid levels.
What is Beta Amyloid and why should we care about it?
It is a protein created during normal brain cell activity, but we’re not totally sure of its function. One thing we do know however is that Beta Amyloid is one of the first detectable markers in the progression of Alzheimer’s disease.
When someone has Alzheimer's disease, the person's brain cells that retrieve, process and store information degenerate and die, according to the Alzheimer's Association. The "amyloid hypothesis," one of the leading theories on the culprit of this destruction, suggests accumulation of the protein might disrupt communication between brain cells, eventually killing them.
Older adults concerned about these findings should consider sleep as important as diet and exercise for their health, Winer said
"The best evidence suggests that between seven and nine hours of sleep is optimal for most adults and anyone who thinks that their sleep patterns may be affecting their long-term health should speak to their doctor."
How can I reduce Beta Amloids and reverse the damage?
Get more sleep!
Many of us have problems getting a good night’s sleep. There are a lot of solutions out there -both good and bad. Let me share a few we think work.
Exercise - Studies have shown that in as little as four weeks, individuals with chronic insomnia who begin regular exercise can fall asleep faster and sleep longer.
Why does this work?
-During exercise your body increases its temperature, and afterward your body’s temperature drops. That drop in temperature mimics a similar temperature change that happens right before you fall asleep.
-Insomnia often goes hand-in-hand with anxiety and depression. These symptoms — including anxious thoughts, worry, and stress — can interfere with one’s ability to fall asleep. Exercise can mitigate these symptoms through the release of endorphins, positively improving sleep quality!
-Circadian Rhythms - some people experience insomnia due to a misaligned internal body clock. A disruption of one’s circadian rhythms can cause them to naturally feel tired later at night than “normal.” Depending on the time of day they exercise, it can help reset their body clock and help them fall asleep earlier.
Eat More Mushrooms! (or Mushroom Supplements) to reduce the accumulation of Beta Amyloids
In 2019 the NUS Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine in Singapore found that seniors who consume more than two standard portions of mushrooms weekly may have 50% reduced odds of having MCI (Mild Cognitive Impairment). Results of the six-year study were published online in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.
Researchers said compared with participants who consumed mushrooms less than once per week, those who ate two portions per week had reduced odds of having MCI and that the "association was independent of age, gender, education, cigarette smoking, alcohol consumption, hypertension, diabetes, heart disease, stroke, physical activities and social activities. Their cross-sectional data also support the potential role of mushrooms and their bio-active compounds in delaying neurodegeneration.
Six types of mushrooms were analyzed in the study, and all were shown to be associated with reduced levels of MCI. They included golden, oyster, shiitake and white button mushrooms, as well as dried and canned mushrooms. However, according to study authors, it’s likely that other mushrooms not referenced would have also indicated beneficial effects.
A recent medical article from 2019 concluded that Reishi GLT’s (Ganoderma lucidum Triterpenoids) relieved cognitive impairment and decreased NFT (neurofibrillary tangles) numbers in AD mice by preventing cell death and inactivating the signaling pathway! They also found that GLTs grew neurons in the brains hippocampus as well as having incredible antioxidant effects!
Cannabinoids – To reduce Beta Amyloids and also get better sleep!
A research article from March 2021 demonstrates how the proteins TREM2 and IL-33 are important to the ability of the brain's immune cells to literally consume dead cells and other debris like the beta-amyloid plaque that piles up in patients' brains, and how levels of both are decreased in Alzheimer’s patients.
The investigators report for the first time that CBD normalizes levels and function, improving cognition as it also reduces levels of the immune protein IL-6, which is associated with the high inflammation levels found in Alzheimer's.
They found CBD appears to normalize levels of IL-33, a protein whose highest expression in humans is normally in the brain, where it helps sound the alarm that there is an invader like the beta-amyloid accumulation.
There is emerging evidence of IL-33’s role as a regulatory protein as well, whose function of either turning up or down the immune response depends on the environment. In Alzheimer's, that includes turning down inflammation and trying to restore balance to the immune system, he says.
Help with Sleep
According to NIH research and many of our customers, CBD can help you sleep better! Here is a recent research article which explains the results.