Sleep for better brain health

Is your memory not as good as it used to be?

Are worries of dementia or Alzheimer’s plaguing you?

Did you know that sleep plays a key role in keeping your brain working efficiently? Although sleep seems like a period of inactivity, it is anything but.

As you get older, sleep can easily become elusive. Bathroom trips, night sweats, restless legs and everyday stress can effect the quality and quantity of your sleep. But your sleep is as important as food and water. And great sleep keeps your brain sharp.

As you sleep, your brain is actively working to maintain neural pathways that enable you to learn, create new memories and consolidate what you have learned in the day to your long term memory.

A new and exciting discovery is the ability of the brain to clear out toxins. While you sleep, the brain shrinks and opens up spaces, allowing the accumulated “garbage” to drain out through the brain’s lymphatic system. “Taking out the garbage” means the removal of B-amyloid protein which is a precursor to the plaques in Alzheimer’s disease. According to Russel Foster, a professor of neuroscience at Oxford University, sleep-deprived Individuals have higher levels of beta-amyloid than those who have slept normally. He says, “ I wouldn’t say sleep disruption causes Alzheimer’s but it is probably a contributing factor.”

If your sleep is not as restorative as it should be, try incorporating some of these PRIME TIPS to help you get some better zzzz’s.


Light plays an important role in setting your circadian rhythm, your wake/sleep
cycle. Reduce your exposure to artificial light from computers, televisions, tablets,
phones and even household lighting. Make use of the features on electronics
such as F.lux that can dim the light at night. Orange glasses also work to reduce
blue light exposure.

When it is time to sleep, make sure your room is dark. Cover any lights from
bedside clocks etc and wear an eye mask if necessary.


Light first thing in the morning is one of the most important things you can do to regulate your circadian rhythm. Spend 10 – 15 minutes outside in the morning sun or sit by a sunny window and soak up the sunshine. Morning light and waking at a consistent time every day (weekends included) ensures an easier time falling asleep at night.


Caffeine and alcohol can have profound effects on your sleep. Caffeine, in healthy people, has a half life of about 5 hours. If you have a cup of coffee at 4pm in the afternoon, you will have 1/2 the caffeine in your bloodstream at 9pm. This can really impact your sleep. Enjoy your coffee at breakfast or eliminate it (slowly) if necessary. Partaking in a few alcoholic drinks in the evening may certainly help you fall asleep (or pass out) quickly and sleep more deeply but it can affect the REM or rapid eye movement stage of sleep. REM sleep is the stage where you dream and is thought to be very restorative. When this is disrupted, you may feel drowsy in the day and experience poor concentration and memory. Think twice about having that third glass of wine or eliminate it completely if you aren’t experiencing great sleep.


Exercise in the day can have a positive effect on your sleep but strenuous activity too close to bedtime can have the opposite effect. Take note of your exercise routine and make adjustments if necessary. That late night game of tennis may keep you up longer than you want.


Keep your bedroom as a relaxing sanctuary for sleep and sex only. Keep your
room cool. You sleep best when the temperature is approximately 18C or 65F.
Keep your electronic devices out of the bedroom.



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