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The sleepless nights  that begin more often as we age may lead to an increased risk for Alzheimer's disease.  Typically people who often experience problems with their sleep also have other health issues. But a new study from the University of California Berkeley, showed that sleep disorders in older adults may play a role in the development of the Alzheimer's disease.

Deep, restorative sleep and the protein fragment beta-amyloid hinders the brain's ability to save new memories, but also creates a channel through which this Alzheimer's-triggering protein is able to travel and attack long-term memory storage.

"Over the past few years, the links between sleep, beta-amyloid, memory, and Alzheimer's disease have been growing stronger," William Jagust, a UC Berkeley neuroscientist, Alzheimer's disease expert and co-leader of the study said in a statement. "Our study shows that this beta-amyloid deposition may lead to a vicious cycle in which sleep is further disturbed and memory impaired."

Bottom line there are ways to get a better night's rest:

  • Turn off all electronics around your sleep space and bed.
  • Practice calming meditations before you turn off the lights.
  • Avoid alcohol and caffeine consumption within four hours of bedtime.
  • Utilize sleep app's to monitor heart rates and sleep patterns like SleepRate or FitBit.
  • Practice nighttime rituals like you plan for your children with a warm bath, story and/or prayers.
  • Ask your doctor about supplements including melatonin, magnesium and other herbal sleep aids.
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