How Sleep Can Help with Alzheimer's Disease

How Sleep Can Help with Alzheimer's Disease
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Recently Arianna Huffington posted an article on the virtues of sleep and how it can help repair the brain while improving the quality of our life.

I’d like to add my insight to her campaign and provide some additional information on how sleep can even help prevent and possibly reverse the effects of severe diseases such as Alzheimer’s and dementia.

Despite the innovations of modern medicine, medical treatments and standard routines such as exercise and dietary supplements, sleep is perhaps the holy grail of health. However, its benefits are largely overlooked. When we close our eyes and shut down, our bodies activate an extreme neurological rejuvenation.

In addition, there are many systems that naturally cleanse and repair our physiology. Seriously, it’s like a party in there.

The first one to arrive is the immune system which helps to identify unwanted invaders and keeps the integrity of our body intact.

He always comes with his wingman, the lymphatic system which carts away-unwanted toxins and removes waste via the kidney and intestines. The immune system and the lymphatic system work as a team to clear unwanted products from the body. They are quite literally the “life of the party.”

Wouldn’t it be great if our brains could eliminate the buildup of unwanted toxins and waste as well?

In the mid 1970’s, Dr. John Upledger, through extensive experimentation and research, pioneered the concept of the pressurestat model which explained how cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) was pumped into the head along the spinal column to the sacrum. He named this process the Craniosacral System.

In the last 10 years, scientists have discovered yet another system in the brain called the “glymphatic system” (i.e. glymp for glial cells in the brain and lymph for the lymphatic system).

It turns out that this system in the brain helps clear toxins and removes waste as well. This intricate network protects and repairs our most vital thinking and memory mechanisms.

This newly discovered glymphatic system does 60% of its work during sleep helping clear toxins and waste from the brain.

Arianna in her article mentions those who have pioneered in this research into this glympatic system-a discovery so profound that a group of scientists were awarded a Nobel Prize for its discovery. She also refers to Dr. Maiken Nedergaard at the University of Rochester who has done some great follow up work on this initial discovery. I would also like to mention another researcher from this same institution-Dr. Jeffrey Iliff who has commented on the beneficial aspects of sleep and the glymphatic system.

This is great and all but what does it have to do with problematic conditions such as Alzheimer’s and dementia?

Well for one, Iliff has said that amyloid plaque, stubborn long lasting deposits of toxins, is the hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Perhaps if there was a way to increase the flow of cerebral spinal fluid to the brain, these plaques could be flushed out in the same fashion that dirt is washed away when going through the carwash.

Some years ago I helped consult on a study showing that Craniosacral Therapy (CST) can prevent and even reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s and Dementia. Our proposed mechanism of repair to the brain is very close to the theory proposed by University of Rochester scientists. Increased flow of CSF activated by a few simple CST techniques can help clear toxins and plaques to prevent their formation and even reverse the effects once in the brain.

So this is what I am suggesting: add to the wonderful benefits of sleep which helps the glymphatic system do its job along with consistent CST techniques; especially if you are at risk or experiencing signs of Alzheimer’s and/or dementia. CST will support the glymphatic system by increasing the flow of CSF and helping to remove these stubborn deposits of amyloid plaques from the brain.

Oh and by the way, CST helps reduce tension in the mind and body, which as an added benefit, helps you enter into a deep, relaxing sleep. It’s a win-win so why not dig a little deeper into the significance of CST and start applying its practice?

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