Tag Archives: magnesium supplements

Sleep Tight, Think Right: The link between insomnia and Alzheimer’s disease

I love to sleep and will sleep nine hours a night if I can. Maybe to justify this indulgence, I pay attention to research on the benefits of sleep and recent studies are showing that sleep deprivation likely contributes to Alzheimer’s disease and dementia. So maybe my eight to nine hours of sleep is more like a necessity than an indulgence.

It turns out that sleep is the brain’s cleaning cycle, according to these recent studies. We have long known that sleep helps us form new memories and that lack of sleep can decrease our ability to concentrate and learn new things. But these new studies have demonstrated that if we are chronically sleep deprived, our brains build up junk that it is correlated with dementia and some other age related memory issues. Evidently, part of the reason we sleep is so the brain can divert its energy to cleaning up the debris that results for our day of mental aerobics. In a study using mice, the sleep-deprived mice has impaired memory compared to the normal mice and their brains showed accumulation of proteins associated with Alzheimer’s disease. So if we don’t get enough sleep we are aging our brains faster and putting ourselves at risk for neurodegenerative conditions like Alzheimer’s disease. If you want to read more details on this new insight, check out this recent New York Times article.

With 80% Americans getting an insufficient amount of sleep, this increased risk for dementia has to potential to be to a serious health crisis. Some people are choosing to sleep less because they are trying to fit more into their busy lives. I have told hundreds of my patients that they need to set themselves an earlier bedtime so they can make sleep a bigger priority. I will even have them set an alarm to help them remember to start their before bed rituals so they will get to bed early enough.

Passionflower

Passionflower

Others want to get their health restoring sleep but are suffering from insomnia. For this group, there are many natural strategies that may help. Often I have patients start by taking some magnesium at bedtime. Magnesium deficiency can contribute to sleeplessness, anxiety, depression, irritability, and muscle cramps. If this isn’t enough, I might add a calming herb like passionflower or California poppy. Others might benefit from taking the amino acid tryptophan shortly before bed to help them make more melatonin, the sleep hormone. Finally, consider a bedtime snack to keep your blood sugar steady through the night and make sure you have a very dark bedroom.

There are many other health benefits to getting a good night’s sleep. If you need more reasons, read my blogs on the connection between insomnia and blood sugar and the link between stress and sleep deprivation.

Post Workout Replenishers

Exercise is one of the best ways we can improve our health, longevity, and overall feeling of vitality. Since exercise increases breathing and circulation, more oxygen and nutrients are delivered to the tissue and waste products are removed more quickly. Exercise also relieves stress and enhances well-being. These warm, near summer, days are great ones to renew your commitment to stay fit and be healthier. But no matter the time of year, it is important to replenish the body after exercise.

For most of us, we need to exercise at least 30 minutes daily for five to six days per week. To help meet a weight loss goal, increase this to an hour. After your workout, don’t fall into the trap of thinking you need to drink a high sugar electrolyte beverage. This is a way that many people mindlessly add unneeded sugar and calorie to their diets. Unless we exercise for over an hour, we probably mostly need to rehydrate ourselves. For hydration, choose water or coconut water. I swear I feel more hydrated after drinking coconut water, and it is fairly low sugar and packs a lot of potassium. Potassium is an important electrolyte that many Americans don’t get enough of already. The more we sweat, the more electrolytes we lose, so for more intensive workouts or hotter days, we may need to replace some of our sodium too. Try adding a pinch of salt to coconut water or diluted fruit juice.

For longer workouts where you need a calorie boost, eat bananas or dried fruit. Recent studies have shown these types of foods to be effective for sustaining performance and electrolyte balance in athletes. Since they are whole foods, they offer other benefits like fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. If you are working out to increase muscle mass, a small amount of protein after exercise may be helpful. Supplements like Vitamin C and glutamine may help speed recovery. Finally, turmeric and magnesium supplements may help reduce post exercise joint and muscle pain.

So get out there, be active, and be smart about it!

Fresh coconuts