The Kenosha County Aging and Disability Resource Center offers free, confidential memory tests every Monday from 8 am to noon.
Memory tests are suggested for anyone concerned about changes in memory, at risk for Alzheimer’s disease due to family history, or who wants to check their memory now for future comparisons.
Some memory problems can be easily treated, such as those caused by vitamin deficiencies or thyroid problems. In general, the earlier the diagnosis, the easier it is to treat memory loss. Memory testing can:
- Provide relief to people concerned about normal memory loss;
- Lead to diagnosis of treatable conditions;
- Offer the ability to make lifestyle changes early when they have the greatest potential for positive effect and the opportunity to participate in future decision-making.
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Warning signs of dementia include forgetting people’s names and events, asking repetitive questions, loss of verbal or written skills, confusion about daily routines, and personality changes.
Screening test results are not a diagnosis, and people with concerns are encouraged to have a full medical exam. Appointment is recommended. Interested persons may call the ADRC at 262-605-6646 to schedule an appointment.
How to get your brain going in the morning (and we don’t just mean coffee)
the inertia of sleep
Called sleep inertia, it happens when you suddenly come out of REM sleep, a deeper stage of sleep where you dream and your body repairs itself. During that sleep cycle, your body is flooded with high levels of melatonin, the body’s sleep hormone. Waking up with a body full of a sleep aid causes disorientation and unstable sensorimotor performance that typically lasts 30 minutes to an hour.
But if you’re sleep deprived (and who isn’t these days?), the grogginess can linger for two hours or more.
Sleep inertia can also occur when you wake up from a daytime nap that went on well beyond the 20-minute nap that might refresh you.
The effects of sleep inertia can be disastrous. If you spill your morning coffee or stub your toe on the furniture, consider yourself lucky. After taking an in-flight nap, an Air India Express pilot overshot the runway and crashed a plane filled with 166 people into a hillside, where it rolled and burst into flames. Only eight survived.
To do? First, consider cold water
Now that you’re awake, so to speak, to the dangers of a sleep-numbed brain, let’s see what science tells us we can do about it.
Can cold water jolt you awake? A small studio showed that people who splashed water on their faces after a nap did just as well on a memory search task as people who didn’t take a nap. But whether it improves your performance enough to, say, drive a car or impress your boss has yet to be studied.
However, if you’re getting out of bed in a daze, it makes sense that a cooler shower would be just what your body needs to clear out a few cobwebs.
Caffeine, but with care
Drinking a couple of cups of caffeinated coffee or tea is a proven way to spark attention. This is because caffeine increases the firing of neurons in the brain, which also triggers the release of adrenaline which makes the heart beat faster.
It’s not necessary to drink more than two cups in one sitting, as studies show that more doesn’t add extra mental clarity and can make you nervous.
enjoy the light
A sunny day can lift your spirits and energize your mind. One study exposed subjects to bright lights after waking up and found that it increased cortisol levels. Cortisol is a steroid hormone, a kind of internal alarm system. To respond to stress, cortisol increases glucose in the bloodstream and enhances the brain’s use of those sugars.
Other to study exposed subjects to bright white light when they woke up and found that alertness improved dramatically.
take a quick ride
Take a brisk walk around your house, or better yet, go for a walk outside in the sunlight. Studies show that exercise temporarily increases alertness, in part due to the accompanying rise in body temperature and increased blood flow to the brain.
try a combination
A to study found that a mixture of caffeine, bright light, and a cold-water face wash helped reactivate alertness after a short nap.
turn into protein
Even if you crave it, sugar isn’t a breakfast fix or wake-up snack after a nap. It will only give you a brief high, and the crash that follows can be brutal, says sleep specialist and clinical psychologist. Michael Breus. Instead, rely on protein like eggs to boost brain power.
prevent the problem
Of course, the best way to address sleep inertia is to prevent it in the first place.
“Probably the easiest way is to have a consistent wake time, depending on how many sleep cycles you want,” says Breus, author of “Beauty Sleep.”
Most people need five sleep cycles averaging 90 minutes each, says Breus, which works out to about seven and a half hours each night. To calculate the time to go to bed, Breus suggests counting back 7 1/2 hours from the time you wake up.
“So if you wake up at 6:30 a.m., go to bed at 11 p.m.,” says Breus. “Do this for a week. If you start waking up right before your alarm, then you’re in good shape. If not, adjust your bedtime backwards until you do. Goodbye, sleep inertia.”
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