If you get your eight hours a night, you should be all set as far as sleep goes, right? Turns out, not so much. A new study coming out of the Washington University School of Medicine shows that it’s in fact your deep sleep, not so much the length of your sleep cycle, that can really do wonders for your brain health and help prevent Alzheimer’s disease.
The study, published in Science Translational Medicine, included nearly 120 participants whose sleep was monitored over a course of six days. Those who had the fewest amount of deep sleep cycles had additional levels of tau, a brain protein that is associated with Alzheimer’s disease in high amounts. Therefore, the study finds, the less deep sleep you’re able to have, the higher the amount of tau in your system, the higher your risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“During sleep, the brain cycles through different stages, and slow-wave sleep is one of them,” Dr. Brendan Lucey, the study’s lead author tells Healthline. “It’s necessary to have good-quality sleep and is thought to be important for preserving memory.”
And improving your memory is one of the top ways to help fight off any risk of Alzheimer’s. Adding this one special ingredient to your meals can be a good way to start boosting your memory, and opting for a Mediterranean diet that also includes nuts, can boost that improvement even more.
But sleep, as the recent research suggests, is a surefire way to make sure you’re getting all of the possible improvements to your sleep that are possible. Sleep deprivation, and those nights during which you don’t reach deep sleep, can not only disrupt your hormones and prevent you from functioning and being productive at full capacity, but it can also pose a risk to your cognitive health.
Sleep specialist and expert contributor to Sporteluxe, Olivia Arezzolo suggests practising healthy sleep hygiene and preparing your bedroom by making it a sleep-friendly space. Nix non-sleep-friendly foods from your diet, and create a list of must-do bedtime activities to help make sure that you’re making the most of those nighttime hours. They could, after all, do wonders for your brain health.