Sheffield and South Yorkshire suffer from the highest rate of dementia diseases in the UK, according to Alzheimer Research UK.
A lack of sleep could be one of the causes, and today is the first day of national sleep awareness month.
Recent discoveries consolidating a link between sleep deprivation, memory loss and Alzheimer’s have shed light on how to tackle the titanic issue that affects so many.
Dementia affects 850,000 people nationwide or over one and a half times the population of Sheffield.
The buildup of plaque, in the brain, associated with Alzheimer’s could be preventable.
This plaque is made of a toxic form of a beta-amyloid protein; it impairs proper brain function before killing the cells.
“Sleep is a missing piece in the explanatory puzzle of ageing and Alzheimer’s” says Dr Matt Walker, Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of California.
Sleep allows us to process information that we have absorbed during the day, but also optimises our brain for storing of data when we arise from our slumber.
As we age the quality of our sleep deteriorates, so does our ability to retain new information. But we are increasingly at risk of Alzheimer’s.
In particular, non rapid eye movement (NREM) sleep escapes our grasps.
NREM is associated with better memory and puts our glymphatic system into high gear.
The glymphatic system, discovered by danish neuroscientist Maiken Nedergaard, is comprise of a network of glial cells that surround neurons, generating electrical pulses, and cleansing our brains of metabolic waste.
As we age our ability to achieve NREM sleep is severely reduced due to a buildup of amyloid in the middle of the frontal lobe.
The more we force ourselves to stay awake, the less time our glymphatic system has to cleanse the brain. This could result in an accumulation of toxic proteins in the middle of frontal lobe, further preventing our ability to reach the deep sleep needed for our brain to repair itself.
For more information produced by Alzheimer’s Research UK, on the scale of dementia in your area, click the link below: