Today, not only do I want to avoid this outcome, I am passionate about helping others avoid it as well.
We know a bit more about Alzheimer's and dementia than we did thirty years ago. We know that yes, it can be genetic, though for every person who has the gene, it's debatable as to whether the gene gets expressed. We know that it is inflammation of the brain. And we know that it is no longer an old person's disease. It is a young person's disease.
That's right, what you are doing or have done in your 30's and 40's may very well be or have been sowing the seeds for dementia later in life. Inflammation is slow and silent when it starts. By the time you are aware of it, whether it's in your brain or your gut or your joints, it has probably been lurking for years, possibly sending signals that were dismissed or ignored. Chronic insomnia in the first half of your life is a predictor of Alzheimer's during the second part of your life. I've been coaching for some years now, and I am hard pressed to remember a client who didn't present insomnia or poor sleep habits during their initial client consultation.
If you are not hearing alarm bells, they are there. Here's some tough love: checking your email or social media at 2:00 a.m. is causing inflammation in your brain and it's slowly killing you. I used to be so guilty of this! So here's the good news: you can take action right now, commit to loving yourself healthy, and start improving your sleep patterns.
Three Things You Can Do Now to Improve Your Sleep:
1. Stop using your cell phone as your alarm clock. Or at a minimum move it so far away from your bed that you have to physically leave the bed to turn it off. In fact, if you can remove electronics from the bedroom that would be best for your sleep cycle. All emit a signal that disrupts your circadian rhythm. How? The light emitted by electronics signals the brain to delay the discharge of melatonin needed for sleep. Beyond that, their physical proximity is a temptation few can resist given our social media and e-mail addicted tendencies. Give in and it creates a cognitive stimulation that disrupts your sleep cycle. (Source).
2. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every day. "Waking and sleeping at regular times reinforces a consistent sleep rhythm and reminds the brain when to release sleep and wake hormones," according to Dr. Frank Lipman. In other words, your body is your ally, it wants you to sleep well, and to do so you need to have consistent sleeping and waking times. Aim for 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
3. Create a bedtime ritual. Create a ritual around going to bed. Light a candle. Massage your feet. Put on soothing music. Write in a gratitude journal. Have a practice at night that helps you wind down and motivate the relaxation response in the body. "A ritual sends a signal to your body and your mind that it is time to slow down and fall asleep, " (Dr. Gerard T. Lombard, Sleep to Save Your Life, p. 45).
Note: Some of this content originally appeared in a post I wrote in June 2016, What You Need To Lose Weight That Is Not Diet and Exercise.