Monthly Archives: September 2011

Sleep Deprivation and Alzheimer’s

A new study to be published in the Archives of Neurology reports levels of amyloid beta, a byproduct of brain activity considered a marker in Alzheimer’s disease, normally rises during the day and decreases at night. Authors of the study suggest a possible link between sleep deprivation and people’s risk for developing dementia such as Alzheimer’s.

It is well established that reduced sleep can lead to cognitive dysfunction. However, prolonged sleep disturbance may play a role in pathologic processes underlying disease.

The authors indicate that levels of amyloid beta increase and decrease naturally. In healthy people, levels of the protein drop to their lowest level about six hours after sleep and then return to their highest levels six hours after peak wakefulness. The transition from sleep to wakefulness strongly correlated with the rise and fall of amyloid beta. The relationship was most pronounced in healthy, young people and less so in older adults who suffer shorter or more prolonged periods of disrupted sleep.

The authors suggested that the brain’s low activity during sleep allows the body to clear amyloid beta through the spinal fluid. Levels of the protein in Alzheimer’s patients, however, appear to be constant. The authors note that more research is needed, but there are reasons to believe that better sleep may be helpful in promoting brain health and reducing risk of Alzheimer’s disease. Sleep may be a factor in the known relationship between exercise and reduced risk of Alzheimer’s as sleep is related to enhanced sleep.

Emotional Well-Being

We all want to feel good, emotionally healthy, and balanced. For many of us this is a great goal, but a rare reality. The question is why do we not fell balanced emotionally? Why do we tend to feel tense, rushed, stressed, or ill inside? One pathway to explore is “control.”

We humans need to feel control, control over our self, our stuff, and our future. Life creates situations and circumstances that remove control from us and unfortunately, we can make decisions that ultimately remove control as well. Our ability to live with reduced control, to give up control, and to not “have to” control most things around us can relate directly to our sense of emotional health. H

How would you rate your need to control things or others around you in your daily life? How well do you do when you are not in control? More importantly, are you at peace when things occur without your control, do you recognize things are okay without your control?

Most things in life are not life and death. Certainly we need to exert control and influence when such circumstances occur. However, I am writing about the hours of little stuff, not life threatening stuff, that we deal with everyday. These are the things that we react to and lead to a healthy or unhealthy existence. Simply put, how do you feel inside?

Make a list of the things that you feel a need to control. The list might contain the behavior of others, the appearance of self, others, or space around you. It might be something relating to time, how things have to get done, or how events have to occur. The things on the list are nearly endless. Once you have made your own list of “Control Items, “ begin to explore more deeply whether you have the ability to let go.

You will need to work consciously on letting go of control with these life items and events. It will not be easy. Try to let go a few times and let life carry on without your control. Then, pay attention to how you feel, particularly inside. Are you okay? Better yet, do you feel a sense of relief enjoying your observation of life events with or without blemish?

Is your need for control in balance? It probably relates directly to your sense of emotional health. The great news is that you have control over letting go of your control!