8. Down Syndrome
Individuals with Down syndrome have an extra copy of chromosome 21. Chromosomes carry the genetic material that makes each human being unique. Studies indicate that this extra chromosome may also lead to increased production of the amyloid-beta plaques found in Alzheimer’s. It is unknown, however, why some individuals with Down syndrome go on to develop Alzheimer’s disease while others do not.
Depression is a hallmark of individuals who suffer from Alzheimer’s disease, as they suffer from memory and cognitive difficulties. However, it may be that depression can also be a forerunner of Alzheimer’s, not just a symptom. It is possible that increased levels of stress hormones, such as cortisol, can affect the brain and result in the risk of Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Other theories as to the link between depression and Alzheimer’s include depression’s effects on glucose levels, inflammation, blood vessels, or nerve growth factors in the brain.
6. Sleep Disorders
Proper rest contributes to brain health, and those with sleep disorders may be at risk for Alzheimer’s disease. A study in Neurology suggests that lack of sleep may trigger the formation of the amyloid plaques of Alzheimer’s. One theory for this link may be that the brain utilizes sleep time for purging the brain of plaque buildup. If sleep is disturbed, the brain’s ability to clear this buildup is compromised. To protect your health and your mind, aim to get the recommended seven to nine hours of sleep each night. Engage in calming activities before bedtime and avoid alcohol and caffeine in the hours before sleep.