To get my free guide “Sleep Your Way to Better Brain Health,” sign up for the GoCogno Free Library here: https://gocogno.com/join-gocogno-free-library/
Dr. Andrew Weil’s tips on how to manage stress are available here: https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/stress-anxiety/how-to-manage-stress/
I’m all about the science. I was want research. I want proof that whatever I’m telling you about is scientifically valid.
But you know, sometimes in life, you encounter something that feels true even if you can’t prove it.
And here’s one of those things. I’m convinced that more people are experiencing MCI at an earlier age, and it’s really concerning.
I see it, and the neurologists I talk to see it.
Now again, I can’t prove it and I don’t know why it is. But Dr. Nate Bergman, one of the MCI experts I admire most, just told me something that might help explain it.
Here what he sees so often with his patients. Too much stress. Too little sleep. Together, those two things can seriously screw up your cognition, and that’s what I want to talk about today.
Hi, I’m Tony Dearing, of GoCogno.com, the website for people with mild cognitive impairment.
Let me start by saying that I’m a big fan of Dr. Nate Bergman and his podcast, “Evolving Past Alzheimer’s.” In his medical practice, he focuses heavily on people with MCI or early stage Alzheimer’s, which he says, quite unabashedly, are “generally treatable and reversible.”
Recently, I had a chance to talk with him about that. And there’s one thing he said that really leapt out at me. It had to do with people who are seeing alarming degrees of cognitive loss in their early 60s, or 50s or even 40s.
You just don’t expect to see that, for a lot of reasons.
First of all, MCI, like Alzheimer’s is, or at least is supposed to be, primarily a condition of old age.
What’s more, these people seem to be doing a lot of things right. Dr Bergman says the four pills of brain health are: Exercise, diet, stress and sleep.
And he told me: “For many people nowadays in the middle of life, between 25 and 65, I think you’ll find a lot of them are very dialed in when it comes to the food they eat. They are trying to eat well. And anyone who’s educated at all is aware of the benefits of exercise. A lot of people are exercising, and have been for a long time.”
So what’s going on here? That’s what Dr. Berman wanted to know. And as he dug deeper, and he found a couple of culprits. Here’s a hint. They both begin with S.
As Dr. Bergman told me: “You’d say, ‘Wow, these people look so good on paper. They’ve got normal body weight, they’re athletic, their diet is good, what could be wrong?’
“But their sleep is wrecked or they are stressed beyond belief.”
Sleep and stress. Stress and sleep. Make no mistake about it. They are known cognition killers. If you have mild cognitive impairment, and either of those comes into play for you, and you are not addressing it, you are putting yourself at cognitive peril, no matter what else you may be doing right.
The good news is, these can be treated. Stress is something you can learn to manage. There are all sorts of techniques for that. Here are just a few:
- Keep a diary
- Strengthen your support system
- Don’t be afraid to say “No”
- Simplify your life
- Reduce stress at work
- Laugh it off
- Take a break from social media or news
- Try mind-body exercises, like meditation or yoga
These tips come from Dr. Andrew Weil, and and for more information, I’ve included a link above.
Most problems with sleeplessness or sleep disorders are treatable too. If that is a concern for you, and you want to learn more, I’ve put together this resource guide “Sleep Your Way to Better Brain Health.” It’s available, along with all my other tip sheets and resource guides, at my Free Library.
Problems with stress and sleep are just so common. If you find you are experiencing them and you deal with them, you are doing your brain a huge favor.
I hope something I shared with you here today is helpful, and I hope to see you again next week. Until then, as always, be kind to your mind.