Sleep de­pri­va­tion and mem­ory loss!

Montreal Times - - News -

Mem­ory de­clines with age, but it was not clear why. A new study may pro­vide part of the an­swer.

The re­port, posted by the jour­nal Na­ture Neu­ro­science, sug­gests that struc­tural brain changes oc­cur­ring nat­u­rally over time in­ter­fere with sleep qual­ity, which in turn blunts the abil­ity to store mem­o­ries for the long term.

The find­ings sug­gest that one way to slow mem­ory de­cline in ag­ing adults is to im­prove sleep, specif­i­cally the so-called slowwave phase, which con­sti­tutes about a quar­ter of a nor­mal night’s slum­ber.

Doc­tors can­not re­verse struc­tural changes that oc­cur with age but there are ways to im­prove sleep pat­terns. In some stud­ies when sleep was im­proved there was im­proved mem­ory. Dr. Paller said that a whole ar­ray of changes oc­curs across the brain dur­ing ag­ing and that sleep was only one fac­tor af­fect­ing mem­ory func­tion. But he said the study told “a con­vinc­ing story, I think: that at­ro­phy is re­lated to slow-wave sleep, which we know is re­lated to mem­ory per­for­mance. So it’s a con­tribut­ing fac­tor.”

“The anal­y­sis showed that the dif­fer­ences were due not to changes in ca­pac­ity for mem­o­ries, but to dif­fer­ences in sleep qual­ity,” said Bryce A. Man­der, a post­doc­toral fel­low at Berke­ley and the lead author of the study. “Essen­tially, with age, you lose tis­sue in this pre­frontal area,” Dr. Walker said. “You get less qual­ity deep sleep, and have less op­por­tu­nity to con­sol­i­date new mem­o­ries.”

Reg­u­larly catch­ing only a few hours of sleep can hin­der me­tab­o­lism and hor­mone pro­duc­tion in a way that is sim­i­lar to the ef­fects of ag­ing and the early stages of di­a­betes. Chronic sleep loss may speed the on­set or in­crease the sever­ity of agere­lated con­di­tions such as type 2 di­a­betes, high blood pres­sure, obe­sity, and mem­ory loss.The re­searchers showed that just one week of sleep de­pri­va­tion al­tered par­tic­i­pants’ hor­mone lev­els and their ca­pac­ity to me­tab­o­lize car­bo­hy­drates. Peo­ple who trade sleep for work or play may get used to it and feel less fa­tigued but are, none the less, sleep de­prived.

Dur­ing sleep-de­pri­va­tion, the re­searchers also found that the sleep-de­prived men had higher night­time con­cen­tra­tions of the hor­mone cor­ti­sol, which also helps reg­u­late blood su­gar, and lower lev­els of thy­roid-stim­u­lat­ing hor­mone.These raised cor­ti­sol lev­els mimic lev­els that are of­ten seen in older peo­ple, and may be in­volved in age-re­lated in­sulin re­sis­tance and mem­ory loss. Sleep debts are like stress.

Given all of the stud­ies that show that we need sleep and we need a good qual­ity of sleep, I am shocked to hear how many peo­ple do not sleep well or for enough hours on a reg­u­lar ba­sis. Some say that they are rest­less and toss and turn. Oth­ers say that pain keeps them awake and so many say that the stress in their lives is the cul­prit.All have the same ef­fect…... We are age­ing be­fore our time and de­vel­op­ing agere­lated dis­eases at younger ages. I have talked about what stress does to our bod­ies and the re­la­tion­ship be­tween stress and dis­ease. Now by not sleep­ing we add to the stress and guess what?? Our health and ev­ery di­men­sion of our lives suf­fer…. Our work, our play, our friends and fam­ily.

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