The secret cause of dementia

It's a serious health problem shared by tens of millions of Americans -- and most of them think it's no big deal.

If you're routinely missing out on sleep yourself, you might even think the only "prescription" you need is another cup of coffee in the morning.

Sure, that jolt of caffeine delivers a burst of energy. You might even forget all about your sleep troubles... for a little while, anyway.

But new research reveals the frightening HIDDEN toll of sleep loss.

And it's something no amount of coffee in the world can cure.

Missing out on sleep can lead directly to the kind of damage in the brain that causes dementia and Alzheimer's disease.

Don't rest easy if you have no sign of memory loss, despite your own sleep struggles.

The new study finds the damage could be taking place RIGHT NOW... and you won't know about it until it's too late!

In the new study, 100 healthy older folks at risk for dementia but with no sign of cognitive problems allowed researchers to collect samples of cerebrospinal fluid.

That's the oil that greases both your spine and brain and that's filled with the proteins that help keep your gray matter humming.

Folks with dementia have damaged proteins, a.k.a. the "plaques and tangles" found in the brains of Alzheimer's patients.

And while no one in this study had dementia -- yet -- the ones with sleep problems had damage in a protein called tau, a.k.a. the "tangles."

If that's not a big-league warning sign, I don't know what is.

As frightening as that is, it's just ONE of the ways that poor sleep can damage the brain.

When you miss out on sleep, the brain's natural detox process is cut short. That allows toxins to build up in the brain, leading to more of the damage linked to dementia.

If you haven't been getting enough sleep, this should be your wake-up call.

In some cases, we undermine our own sleep with busy lives, too much TV, poor diet, and evening caffeine. Even being in front of a computer or iPad in the hour or so before bed can disrupt sleep, as the blue light from LED screen signals "daytime" to your brain.

If a few lifestyle tweaks and some natural treatments such as melatonin or chamomile don't have you sleeping like a baby, your body could be trying to tell you something.

Poor sleep can be a sign of a nutritional problem or even a hormonal issue, especially in older folks.

A holistic medical doctor can help test you for the common causes of sleep struggles and get you started on a natural plan to fight back and sleep better.

If you're in the San Diego area, I can help. Make an appointment to see me here at the Stengler Center for Integrative Medicine.

Not in the area? I'm also available for advice by phone. Call 855-DOC-MARK to schedule a consultation.

And don't forget to connect with me on Facebook!