Episode 35



It is becoming increasingly clear that the number one risk factor for dementia is the quality of your sleep.

In this episode, I discuss how sleep could possibly be related to conditions of neurodegeneration, like Alzheimer’s dementia.

Over the last decade especially, it is becoming increasingly clear the pivotal role that sleep plays in brain health - not just in memory formation as discussed in Episode 26, not just in mental and emotional health, such as in regards to dreams like in Episode 19 - but sleep quality is THE make or break risk factor when it comes to neurodegenerative disease like Alzheimers.

And the key really seems to be the 3rd stage of NREM sleep called N3 or deep sleep, or slow wave sleep. This part of sleep should account for about 1/5th of your total sleep time. During N3 sleep, support cells in the brain morph and shrivel, causing space to open up between them for water to flow through like little canals called glymphatics.

Then the electrical discharges of the large amplitude slow waves (hence the term "slow wave sleep") these electrical waves trigger fluid waves - pulsations like tidal waves pushing through these newly opened pathways around neurons - carrying away with them all kinds of waste and metabolic debris - including two key proteins called beta-amyloid and tau, which when left uncleared, will accumulate and cluster together into clumps that are the literal building blocks of Alzheimers dementia.

The greater the loss of deep sleep, the greater the risk of dementia. And likewise, the greater the deep sleep, the lesser the risk. And since these pathologies build up over years before causing any obvious symptoms, there is an overwhelming opportunity to improve your health and wellbeing and improve your chances for living dementia-free by forming and maintaining the habits that facilitate good sleep.


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