Studies say that more than 70 percent of Americans report difficulty getting an adequate amount of sleep at least one night each month. Also, 11 percent admit to not getting enough sleep every night. To say that this news is disconcerting would be a gross understatement as there is a myriad of short and long-term consequences that are associated with chronic sleep deprivation, such as high blood pressure, a weakened immune system, reduced libido and an increased risk of developing heart disease or diabetes.
The health problems do not stop there; several studies are now suggesting a possible correlation between sleep deprivation and an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurodegenerative diseases.
How Much Sleep Do You Need for Good Health?
The amount of sleep needed for good health ultimately comes down to age; according to a recent study, seven to eight hours of sleep each night is considered ideal for those over the age of 64. On the other hand, those between the ages 18 and 64 should aim for seven to nine hours. Along with lowering your chances of developing numerous chronic health problems, getting these recommended hours of deep, restorative sleep may even add more years to your life, the study states.
How Does Sleep Deprivation Lead to Alzheimer’s Disease?
Having established why getting enough sleep is essential for good health, let’s take a closer look at the relationship between sleep deprivation and Alzheimer’s disease. Like the rest of the body, getting enough sleep helps contribute to a healthy and well-rested brain, and this is especially true for older adults.
To help put this into perspective, a research study published by chronobiology.com, which examined the sleeping patterns of several study participants between the ages of 60 and 80, revealed that those who received adequate sleep each night had less tau-protein buildup in their brains than those who were sleep-deprived.
For those who may not be familiar with them, tau proteins are commonly found in nerve cells and are responsible for stabilizing microtubules, which are the major components of the cytoskeleton. When there are too many defective tau proteins in the brain, they can trigger pathologies that affect the nervous system, which, in turn, leads to an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s, other forms of dementia and other neurodegenerative diseases.
How Melatonin Supplements May Help Prevent Alzheimer’s Disease
Now that we have a rudimentary understanding of how sleep deprivation and neurodegenerative diseases are interconnected, let’s take a look at how melatonin can help reduce your risk of developing them.
Given that more tau protein forms in the brain when you’re sleep-deprived, it stands to reason that any sleep aid that enables you to get sufficient sleep will help reduce your chances of developing Alzheimer’s.
However, in addition to lulling you to sleep, melatonin can do much more. Several studies show that the antioxidant properties in melatonin can reverse chemical reactions in the brain responsible for cell damage and tau-protein buildup, both of which can contribute to neurodegenerative diseases like Alzheimer’s.
For older adults who have already developed Alzheimer’s disease, taking melatonin supplements is still beneficial as they have been shown to improve mild cognitive impairment and also ease feelings of depression and anxiety, both of which are often associated with the mind-robbing disease. There is also evidence suggesting that taking melatonin can also delay the onset of late-stage Alzheimer’s disease, which is typically characterized by severe memory loss, an inability to communicate and much more.
All in all, getting enough sleep is a great way to safeguard both your physical health and brain health. Plenty of evidence shows that melatonin supplements can help you get the sleep you need while simultaneously easing or minimizing your chances of developing a neurodegenerative disease.