Alzheimer’s and insomnia — breaking the endless cycle

April 30, 2012
Volume 3    |   Issue 32

Al loves horses. Every day for 35 years, he would get up and take care of his champion quarter horses. He had one mare in particular that was his favorite. As he aged, she was his anchor. She lived well beyond the normal age for a horse. And he cared for her through some difficult times. His daily routine gave him purpose and she made life worth living.

But late last year, the mare passed away. And Al’s anchor was gone; his routine changed abruptly. Almost immediately, his health spiraled down. His memory began to disappear rapidly. His doctor diagnosed Alzheimer’s. It was a devastating time for Al and his family. All the horses he loved were gone. Life had no purpose. And his health was dwindling. What made it even more unbearable was he couldn’t sleep.

It’s not unusual for Alzheimer’s patients to struggle with sleep. The question researchers are trying to answer is what comes first, the Alzheimer’s or the insomnia. Some studies have found that sleep problems can lead to Alzheimer’s. One small study found that waking up frequently and a habit of lying awake can increase brain plaques that lead to Alzheimer’s. Other studies show that the anxiety associated with Alzheimer’s can lead to severe sleep disorders. Regardless of which one comes first, it’s obvious the two challenges feed off of each other and make both worse.

Fortunately, there’s a nutrient that can help with both Alzheimer’s and insomnia. You may have heard of the nutrient gamma-amino-butyric acid or GABA. GABA is a very effective treatment for insomnia. But recent research shows the nutrient is critical for your brain health.

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In a recent study from the Gladstone Institutes of Neurological Disease in California, researchers studied mice they genetically engineered to have learning and memory deficits problems. They found that these mice had very low levels of GABA.

When the Gladstone team gave the mice the drug pentobarbital, which boosts GABA function, they were able to reverse the problems. Valium is another drug that boosts GABA function.

But you don’t need to take drugs to experience these same results. You just need to take GABA. In fact, taking GABA can prevent Alzheimer’s in the first place. This study (and others) shows that low levels of GABA are characteristic in Alzheimer’s. And other studies show that people who have insomnia and racing thoughts are often deficient in GABA. We know GABA can help reduce anxiety and help you sleep, both of which can lead to memory loss.

The connection is clear: Sleep disorders are directly related to memory loss. So if you’re struggling to get to sleep or sleep through the night, don’t let it rob you of your memory. Simply take a GABA supplement and begin sleeping again.

Unlike sleeping pills and the drugs used in these studies, GABA is safe and non-habit forming. And it’s inexpensive. You can find it at most health food stores. While most doctors recommend a dose of 500 mgs, GABA is more effective when combined with other sleep-enhancing nutrients, such as those found in Advanced Sleep Formula. It also contains taurine, which helps you sleep better and protects against beta amyloid — the plaque that causes Alzheimer’s. Taking both taurine and GABA greatly enhances the quality of your sleep and your ability to fight off Alzheimer’s.

Your insider for better health,

Steve Kroening

Steve Kroening is the editor of Nutrient Insider, a twice-a-week email newsletter that brings you the latest healing breakthroughs from the world of nutrition and dietary supplements. For over 20 years, Steve has worked hand-in-hand with some of the nation's top doctors, including Drs. Robert Rowen, Frank Shallenberger, Nan Fuchs, William Campbell Douglass, and best-selling author James Balch. Steve is the author of the book Practical Guide to Home Remedies. As a health journalist, Steve's articles have appeared in countless magazines, blogs, and websites.


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