Avoiding Alzheimer’s: How to prevent cognitive decline

  • Revealed, the sleep ‘sweet spot’– could this help you avoid cognitive decline?
  •  How to ‘pressure wash’ the toxins from your brain
  •  How to lower your cold & flu risk by having a kids’ bedtime routine

I know that foxes need to make babies.

It’s not like they can choose a career instead, or go travelling the world, free of commitments.

But do they have to make such a racket?

Last night I thought someone was being murdered in the garden.

I woke up with a start as screams and yelps filled the night.

Lara was peacefully asleep, (I’ve no idea how), but that was it for me, for about two hours.

The foxes stopped rutting but my brain began its usual routine of going down the rabbit holes of worry in my mind.

You might know the feeling.

I think most older people do!

And it’s something that can cause real problems for us, too.

Take this interesting piece of new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, which came out only last month.

Their multiyear study of older adults found that both short and long sleepers experienced much more cognitive decline than those who slept a moderate amount.

‘Short sleepers’ were defined as those who slept less than 4.5 hours per night.

‘Long sleepers’ were those who got more than 6.5 hours kip per night.

The study’s co-senior author David Holtzman, said: “It was particularly interesting to see that not only those with short amounts of sleep but also those with long amounts of sleep had more cognitive decline… It suggests that sleep quality may be key, as opposed to simply total sleep.”

So according to this study, there’s a ‘sweet spot’ for older people of around 5-6 hours good quality sleep per night.

Which surprises me, as the common wisdom is that it’s 7-8 hours.

Of course, older people tend to need less sleep than younger people, but still – it shows how muddled and conflicting advice about sleep can be.

Even the study’s authors agree that we each have individual sleep needs.

The key, they say, is the quality of sleep, which is more important than quantity.

Anyway, this new research might give you some consolation if you only get around 5 or 6 hours rest every night.

How this could help you reduce the risk of cognitive decline

Other studies have shown that people with Alzheimer’s often experience sleep problems… and also that people with sleep problems are more vulnerable to Alzheimer’s.

There was an article in the Telegraph published on the 24th October, in which Dr Robbins, a sleep expert for Savoir, explained how sleep protects the brain.

“We discovered that over the course of the day, the brain produces toxins, the accumulation of which is associated with neuro cognitive decline,” she said. “When we sleep, not only does the brain stop producing these toxins, but it also produces a cerebral fluid which, in essence, pressure-washes the brain to remove the toxins that have built up.”

That’s quite an image, isn’t it?

You can PRESSURE WASH the toxins from your brain with a good night’s sleep.

It can also lower your risk of getting colds and flu. As researchers discovered back in 2009, poorer sleep efficiency and shorter sleep in the weeks before you get exposed to a rhinovirus mean you have lower resistance to infection.

So what does Dr Robbins – a sleep expert – recommend?

Well, in short…

You need a KIDS’ BEDTIME routine.

“It’s a really common mistake, but just as children need set bedtime routines, so do we,” she told the Telegraph.

That might be hard if you have irregular working hours, but it’s worth a try.

In the same way as parents have a bedtime for kids, and often get them ready for bed in the hour leading up to that, set yourself a regular bedtime, too.

And perhaps carry out a few regular rituals beforehand to get you into a sleepy state, just as parents do with kids. (Well SOME parents anyway!)

That means switching off the TV in good time, powering down your phone (or at least logging off social media alerts and forgoing Google and YouTube!) and doing something in the hour before bed that calms you.

That could mean some mellow music… listening to a podcast… reading a book or magazine.

Other things could help too, like a foot massage or head rub – if you’re lucky enough to have someone to do that for you!

It can be important to get into pyjamas, or a dressing gown, which can be soothing but also gets you in that bedtime mode.

You might consider a CBD oil product, which can help the process (click here to see our recommended range).

And magnesium is famed for helping with a good night’s sleep. We have a wonderful, ethically sourced magnesium supplement from Together in stock here. Make sure you take it before 6pm for the best effect.

You could also consider getting a weighted blanket, designed to be 10% of your bodyweight. These have been shown to reduce stress, boost relaxation and increase your sense of safety for a better night’s sleep.

These are some strategies you can try out this winter and see if you can get that all important 6 hours of deep sleep.

As a result you’ll power wash those toxins out of your brain and help protect yourself from cognitive decline.