Sleep disruption 'could be early indicator of Alzheimer's disease'

6 September 2012

People who suffer from regular sleep disruptions have been warned that the issue could be one of the earliest indicators of Alzheimer's disease.

Scientists from Washington University School of Medicine, in St. Louis, have reported this issue in the Science Translational Medicine journal after studying mice models.

The researchers found that when the first signs of Alzheimer's plaques appear in the brains of the animals, their normal sleep-wake cycle becomes dramatically disrupted.

Mice commonly sleep for 40 minutes during every hour of daylight, but this reduced to just 30 minutes per hour upon the detection of Alzheimer's plaques.

Professor David M Holtzman, head of Washington University's Department of Neurology, commented: "If sleep abnormalities begin this early in the course of human Alzheimer's disease, those changes could provide us with an easily detectable sign of pathology."

Other early symptoms of Alzheimer's disease that people should look out for include minor memory problems and regularly finding it difficult to say the right words, NHS Choices state.

Posted by Philip Briggs

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