Older adults that experience problems sleeping may be exhibiting early signs of Alzheimer's disease, according to a recent study.
Using mice, researchers observed that when amyloid plaques started to form in the brains of the animals they began to have sleeping complications.
These plaques, made up of clumps of amyloid protein, have long been implicated in the development of Alzheimer's.
If the findings are replicated in human models, the discovery could help doctors identify those with Alzheimer's at a much earlier juncture.
However, researchers stress that research is still in its very early stages and more work needs to be done.
Professor David Holtzman, researcher on the study, commented: "If these sleep problems exist, we don't yet know exactly what form they take, reduced sleep overall or trouble staying asleep or something else entirely."
Nevertheless, the study adds to the growing body of research suggesting that a lack of sleep causes amyloid plaques to form in the brain.
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