Sleep cycle troubles may be early sign of Alzheimer’s disease
A fitful night's sleep and a habit of daytime catnapping may be an early-warning sign of Alzheimer's dementia, according to new research conducted in humans and mice.
Restless nights and sleepy days are a common pattern in patients with full-blown Alzheimer's. Those disrupted circadian rhythms are a symptom that can upend the lives of caregivers and cause confusion and anxiety in patients.
Less dramatic levels of sleep disruption, including trouble falling asleep and more frequent nighttime wakening, are also typical as people age.
A new study finds that, in older people who show no signs of cognitive impairment, those with a sleep-wake cycle that is subtly off-kilter are more likely to have amyloid protein deposits in their brains. Those amyloid "plaques" are a hallmark of Alzheimer's, and they can develop years before symptoms of memory loss or thinking problems are evident.
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Written by MELISSA HEALY for latimes.com
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