Brain atrophy risk in elderly increases with excessive sleepiness, fatigue: Study

By: Devon Andre | Brain Function | Tuesday, November 29, 2016 - 10:30 AM

Brain atrophy risk in elderly increases with excessive sleepiness, fatigue: StudyBrain atrophy risk in the elderly increases with excessive sleepiness and fatigue, according to research findings. Lead author Diego Z. Carvalho explained, “Our results may help to identify individuals at higher susceptibility or risk for dementia prior to symptom onset so that appropriate interventions can be undertaken early to prevent progression to dementia.”

The researchers identified 1,374 cognitively normal individuals over the age of 50 who completed sleepiness and fatigue surveys and underwent MRI scans. Excessive daytime sleepiness was defined as Epworth Sleepiness Scale of 10 or more. Fatigue severity was assessed with the Beck Depression Inventory-II.

The study results revealed that excessive daytime sleepiness and fatigue were not only associated with greater disrupted sleep, but also significantly lower cognitive scores and more medical comorbidities.

Tips to manage fatigue and boost energy

Go for a walk: If you don’t have the energy to get up and get out, how will a little exercise help? Well, research has shown that walking for as little as 10 minutes can greatly increase a person’s energy for up to two hours. Simply getting the heart beating can improve mental and physical performance. Light exercise like walking can also help cure sleep problems and prevent insomnia by releasing energy you may not have thought you had!

Check your magnesium intake: Another factor that can impact energy levels is magnesium. Magnesium plays an important role in breaking down glucose into energy, so a drop in levels can result in a drop in energy. Suggested servings of magnesium for women and men are 300 mg and 350 mg respectively, so including a handful of almonds, hazelnuts, or cashews into your daily diet might provide the boost you need.

Here is a list of magnesium-rich foods you can include in your diet to boost energy naturally:

  • Dark leafy greens
  • Nuts and seeds
  • Fish
  • Soybeans
  • Avocados
  • Bananas
  • Dark chocolate
  • Low-fat yogurt.

Take a nap: If you’re having sleeping problems or experiencing insomnia at night, try to take an hour-long power nap. Studies have shown a short power nap can not only improve energy and physical performance, but mental performance as well.

When taking a nap there are a few things to consider – do’s and don’ts, if you would.

Do’s:

  • Keep your nap short
  • Nap in the afternoon (ideally)
  • Create a restful environment
  • Have coffee prior to the nap

Don’ts:

  • Don’t substitute sleep with naps
  • Don’t be unprepared – ensure you have an alarm clock, eye mask if needed, and earplugs to block out noise
  • Don’t over nap

Eat breakfast: Start your day off right by eating breakfast. Nutritionists and doctors suggest that breakfast provides the energy needed to get people moving in the morning and tackle the day’s challenges. In fact, they say that skipping even one meal can lead to fatigue and decreased performance.

Here is a list of the best foods that not only boost your energy naturally, but ideally should be consumed for breakfast:

  • Oatmeal
  • Greek yogurt
  • Wheat germ
  • Grapefruit
  • Bananas
  • Eggs
  • Almond butter
  • Watermelon
  • Flaxseed
  • Blueberries
  • Strawberries
  • Coffee
  • Tea
  • Cantaloupe
  • Kiwi
  • Orange and cranberry juice
  • Cereal
  • Raspberries
  • Whole wheat bread
Reduce stress: One of the biggest causes of sleeping problems and insomnia is stress. The anxiety caused by stress leads to sleepless nights, which can eventually result in chronic sleeping problems or insomnia. Stress reduction techniques for sleeping problems can be increased exercise or other activities, to take your mind off the things bothering you.

Drink water: Physical and mental performance is closely tied to hydration. In fact, a person feeling tired and out of energy may just be dehydrated and need a glass of water. Doctors say it’s often the fastest and easiest way to get an energy boost! In addition to drinking more water, try to limit alcohol consumption. Alcohol is a depressant that can make people feel tired and groggy.

If you’re unsure about your hydration levels, look no further than the toilet bowl. The color of your urine can indicate if you’re hydrated or not indicating whether you need to drink more. Use the color of urine as a guide to your hydration levels:

  • Nearly clear – Optimal hydration
  • Pale yellow – Could drink some more water
  • Solid/bright yellow – Drink ½ a bottle within an hour
  • Beige yellow – Drink ½ a bottle immediately
  • Dark yellow – Drink 1 liter immediately

Focus on eating whole grains: Making sure your diet limits sugar intake and is rich in whole grains is another way to boost energy and improve performance. Whole grains (or complex carbohydrates) provide the body with sustained energy. Try having oats in the morning, whole grain bread at lunch, an energy bar for a snack, and a sweet potato at dinner. Conversely, stay away from “quick” sugar fixes. These often give short bursts of energy followed by a crash, leaving you more tired than you were in the first place.

Regular sleep: Boosting energy can also be accomplished by regulating your sleep schedule. Doctors say this is a way to fight insomnia and other sleep problems, and it just takes practice. Set a specific time to go to bed and wake up every morning, and try to stick to it no matter what. Remember to wind down before bed by doing something relaxing – avoid reading, television, or other stimulating activities.

Although it’s a common belief that eight hours of sleep is ideal, age is what should really determine how much sleep is adequate to get more energy. For those over the age of 18, 7.5 to nine hours is best recommended.

Leave the desk: If you have an office job you probably spend countless hours at your desk, likely in front of a computer screen. We tend to lose focus and become excessively tired as the day progresses. To combat the effects of your energy-draining desk, just leave it! A quick step-away from your work station is enough to recharge and regain focus while boosting energy once again.

Go outside and get active: The act of stepping outside and looking at greenery is enough to boost energy almost instantly. All you need is 20 minutes to start reaping the energy-boosting effects. But if you can’t get outside, simply keep a window open and the blinds up to distract yourself with the scenic outdoors.

Take a cold shower: If you’re wondering how to quickly boost your energy just hop into a cold shower. Research has shown that a three-minute cold shower is enough to counteract the effects of fatigue.

Take a few deep breaths: Deep breathing is often associated with meditation, aiming to calm us down and relax us, but it can be an effective way to get more energy. When we breathe deeply, it increases blood flow necessary to keeping us awake and alert. Whenever you feel your energy draining, take a moment and breathe deeply.


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Related Reading:

Hearing loss in elderly linked to brain atrophy: Study

Improving fitness in seniors may counteract brain atrophy

Sources:

http://www.aasmnet.org/articles.aspx?id=6331

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