Sleep Helps Brain Health
Poor sleep quality, for elderly and all of us, can lead to feeling tired, irritable, and slow the next day. But for your brain, poor sleep may cause health issues relating to dementia.
On an everyday — and every night — basis, sleep and memory are closely intertwined. Seniors go to bed with a day’s worth of memories. But most of those memories are fleeting. It is during sleep that the memories of the day are sorted and stored. If we sleep poorly or not enough, our recollection of the previous day is likely to be fuzzy.
The old saying “a good night’s sleep clears the mind” is literally true. While we’re sleeping, the brain’s waste removal mechanism, called the glymphatic system, removes cellular debris that could raise our risk of dementia. This only happens as we slumber. The brain only has limited energy at its disposal and it appears that it must choose between two different functional states: 1) awake and aware; or 2) asleep and cleaning up.
The relationship between sleep and dementia goes both ways. Just as poor-quality sleep raises the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and related disorders, these conditions also can have a devastating impact on sleep quality … and family caregivers are caught up in the sleeplessness cycle.
Caregivers are well-familiar with “sundown syndrome.” This generally occurs in late afternoon and early evening. At a time when most of us are getting tired, the elderly can become restless, agitated and very much awake. Elderly parents, one of both, may resist going to bed, refuse to stay in bed, and get up again and again in the night. Many families hire professional in-home care to keep their loved one safe and cared for at home while preserving the health of family caregivers.
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John D. Miller is the founder/owner of Home Care Partners, LLC, a Massachusetts business providing private duty, personalized in-home assistance and companion care services to those needing help in daily activities and household functions.
Phone: (781) 378-2164