If You Do This, Early Dementia Is In Your Future
Our lifestyle can impact our health in a number of ways, and everywhere we look, there is advice being thrown around on how to live happier, healthier lives. Whether about our diets, exercise or relationships, it can all be a bit overwhelming. Growing old can be a scary prospect for most people, without the weight of health issues looming overhead.
But today, we’re looking at how to prevent a serious brain health issue with one simple change. Dementia affects around 6 million people in the US - it is a common occurrence, ranging from mild to serious cognitive issues such as memory loss and the ability to look after yourself. But what if there was a way to slow down the onset of dementia, without the need for drastic medical intervention?
But before we look into this, let's look at what Dementia is, and how it can affect us.
What Is Dementia?
Dementia is a common illness occurring in those over 65, that obstructs cognitive functions, such as memory, language skills, and the ability to focus on things, as well as problem solving and self-management. In some cases, it can alter a sufferer’s personality, or they may require a carer to assist them in everyday life.
Dementia is not a disease in its own right, but instead, is the name for a group of symptoms which affect your cognitive function. The most common disease that falls under the umbrella term of dementia, is Alzheimer’s Disease. There are, however, other diseases which can cause dementia, such as Lewy body dementia, vascular dementia, and frontotemporal disorders [i].
According to the Alzheimer’s Association, there are an estimated 5.7 million people in the US living with Alzheimer’s dementia [ii], 81% of whom are aged over 75. As we age, our brains lose nerve cells or neurons, but for those with dementia, the loss of those neurons is far greater. The damage to the brain’s nerve cells can occur years before the symptoms of dementia show, which is why it is a more prevalent issue during the older years.
Although there are a number of reasons people can develop symptoms of dementia, such as experiencing a stroke, or smoking [iii] (which reduces the amount of oxygen reaching the brain), there is no one certain cause of dementia. However, there are contributing factors to dementia that we should acknowledge. Some are beyond our control, and some are not so difficult to help. Genetics and medical conditions play a big role, but lifestyle choices such as smoking and exercising are also contributors [iv]. But there is one factor that is increasingly becoming a cause for concern in studies on dementia – sleep.
Sleep isn’t just something we want, it's something we need. It is vital for our brains to function properly, both in the short-term and the long-term.
One of the main factors contributing to dementia is a lack of sleep. But what is a ‘lack of sleep’? Well, this differs from person to person, but the recommended amount of sleep per night is between 7 and 9 hours. Studies show that if you don’t get enough sleep, you are more at risk of developing diseases that lead to dementia, such as Alzheimer’s [v]. But it’s not necessarily about the quantity of sleep, it could be more about the quality. It’s suggested that insomnia and sleep apnea are contributors to the risk of dementia [vi], as they interrupt the quality of sleep you could be getting.
Related: 5 Common Sleeping Myths Debunked
Why Do We Need Sleep?
The biggest purpose of sleep is to restore cells, which is key to a healthy lifestyle! But as well as that, sleep is important for our long-term brain health. It is said that even one night of severe sleep deprivation (being awake for over 31 hours) [vii] can cause damage to the nerve cells, which can lead to the early onset of dementia.
Another reason? Well, memories are engrained during sleep. The area of the brain called the hippocampus is responsible for our ability to learn new things and create short-term memories. While we sleep, these memories are transferred to the cortex in the brain, which holds long-term memories. Without sleep, our brains aren’t capable of creating these beloved memories – which is one of the symptoms of dementia.
Does Sleep Deprivation Cause Dementia?
Alzheimer’s (a form of Dementia) is caused by a build-up of proteins called beta-amyloid and tau, which can block the signals in the brain from firing properly. You see, as we sleep, amyloid levels fall as the proteins are cleared out, but during wakefulness, the levels rise. This is why disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnea have such a damaging effect on the brain. So, the answer isn’t that sleep deprivation causes dementia, but it plays a big part in our overall brain health, which is key to the onset of dementia and its related diseases.
What Can We Do?
With one in three people over the age of 85 [viii] having some form of Dementia, we can’t deny that there is a risk of us or our loved ones experiencing a breakdown of brain neurons. The best thing we can do in these cases is to help our brains work properly. One way we can all do this is by getting the best quality sleep possible.
There is an array of factors that affect how well we sleep, such as hormone imbalances, caffeine intake, or use of phones before bed. Taking the time to work out a good sleep routine will assist your sleep pattern and allow your body, and brain, to rest well. But sometimes we want more, and the use of essential oils is not only great for sleep, but it has been proven to help with cognitive function and hormone balances.
Tips For A Deeper Slumber
There are daily habits we can change to try to enhance our sleep, such as taking up meditation and avoiding blue light in the bedroom. Modern lives often leave us feeling stressed and frantic, but if you end your day with some time to yourself to meditate, you can relax your mind, which will help you sleep well. Phones and tablets are the big criminals when it comes to depriving people of restful sleep – try to not spend time scrolling through your phone just before bedtime, and you will notice a difference!
For more on how to sleep well, read our blog on ‘7 Science-Backed Sleep Hacks To Help You Feel Well-Rested’
An estimated 50-70 million adults in the U.S. suffer from some sort of sleep disorder [ix] - this is a huge number of people who are not getting the sleep they need for their brains to rest and recuperate. If you think you are one of these many people, you should try Organica’s Dream Lotion! Our Dream Lotion contains natural ingredients that will help you get a good, restful sleep. Bergamot, Lavender, and Cedarwood oils have been scientifically proven to help the mind relax and drift into a deeper sleep.
Aromatherapy can be an incredible way to slow down the onset, or to manage, dementia and the associated diseases. Essential oils are used to control different aspects of dementia. Let’s take a look at a few of the most effective ones [x]:
- Lavender is known to ease feelings of depression and anger, and to help promote sleep in those who suffer from insomnia.
- Ylang Ylang similarly relieves the feeling of depression and can encourage good sleep.
- Bergamot helps with anxiety and stress, both of which can interrupt the ability to sleep, and is also said to help with insomnia.
These oils are proven to work, which is why we at Organica chose to use them in our products. Organica’s Pure Rest Roller is a handy little tool to help relieve stress and tension and formulated to help you relax and unwind for the best night’s sleep.
Growing old shouldn't have to be scary, and there are so many things we can do for ourselves to make the golden years truly golden. Creating good habits that give your body and mind the right care, will benefit you for a long time, so don't hold back! In an increasingly aging world, there is medical advice to help people who are growing older, but it doesn't have to be a mind-boggling task. Dementia affects one in three people over the age of 85 in the USA - an undeniably big number of people. Help yourself by giving your brain the daily rest it needs and deserves.
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