Disrupted sleep patterns linked to Alzheimer’s disease hallmark

People who suffer from disrupted sleep may have memory problems in later life, new research suggests.

Scientists have linked poor sleep with a build-up of amyloid plaques – sticky clumps of protein that build up in the brain and are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Researchers tested the sleep patterns of 100 people aged 45 to 80, and found that 25 per cent had evidence of amyloid plaques, which can appear years before the symptoms of Alzheimer’s begin.

People who woke up more than five times an hour were more likely to have the plaque build-up compared with people who did not wake up as much.

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Those who spent less than 85 per cent of their time in bed sleeping were more likely to have the markers than those who spent more than 85 per cent of their time in bed sleeping. Study author Yo-El Ju, of Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis, said: “Further research is needed to determine whether sleep changes may predict cognitive decline.”