Could insomnia CHANGE your brain?
My friend, I'm here to tell you... You've got rhythm!
No, I'm not talking about how well you can cut a rug.
I'm talking about your body's "internal clock," a.k.a. your CIRCADIAN rhythm!
It's something that's built right into everyone's brains -- it tells your body when it's time to go to sleep at night AND when it's time to wake up into the morning.
Who could ask for anything more?
Well, it turns out that for some of us, the circadian rhythm doesn't hold steady as we age -- which may turn your life upside down and sideways, leaving you up and active at night and sawing logs during the day (if at all).
And according to a new study, if your clock gets out of whack... and your sleep becomes scattered all over the place... your precious memories could be at risk.
That's because disruptions to your circadian rhythm may be one of the first signs of Alzheimer's disease, YEARS before devastating memory loss sets in.
In the study, out of Washington University, about 200 older folks who had NO symptoms of cognitive decline kept daily sleep diaries for up to two weeks and also wore devices that tracked their activity levels.
Researchers then looked for any buildup of amyloid protein (a.k.a. " plaques") -- a signature sign of Alzheimer's disease -- in the participants' brains, either by giving them PET brain scans, testing their spinal fluid for amyloid protein, or both.
When the researchers compared the sleep data with these test results, it turned out that most of the folks who had normal sleep/wake cycles were free of amyloid plaques in their brains.
But on the flip side, ALL of those with disruptions to their circadian rhythms had evidence of amyloid plaques.
That means that their brains showed signs of Alzheimer's damage even though they didn't yet have ANY symptoms of the disease!
Now, the study didn't determine whether disturbances in circadian rhythm led to the Alzheimer's changes... or the other way around.
But we know from previous studies that amyloid levels in the brain DECREASE during sleep... and when you don't get enough shuteye, those amyloids can build up.
So, to be on the safe side, you want to make sure your "clock" is running right on time!
And your best bet for doing that is to supplement with melatonin, which is the "sleep hormone" that helps regulate your body's circadian rhythm.
Your body produces it naturally, but since your levels of it wane as you get older, it's best to take a supplement.