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Disrupted sleep could increase chances of developing Alzheimer's, research says

Published 14 February 2012

People who wake up regularly during the night are more likely to develop amyloid plaques, proteins associated with Alzheimer's, according to new research.

Scientists from Washington, US, presented their findings at the American Academy of Neurology's annual meeting on 14 February.

The researchers analysed sleep patterns of 100 people without dementia aged between 45 and 80, over two weeks. People who woke up more than five times an hour or slept less efficiently were more likely to have amyloid plaques in their brains.

Alzheimer's Society comment:

'This interesting study supports previous research that suggests regularly disrupted sleep could be linked to plaques known to develop in Alzheimer's disease. Much more research is needed, as we don't know whether these changes in people's sleep patterns over longer periods may increase chances of cognitive decline and dementia.

'Those of us who may have to count sheep at times should not panic. The best way to reduce your risk of dementia is to eat healthily, take regular exercise, don't smoke and get your blood pressure and cholesterol checked.'

Dr Anne Corbett
Research Manager
Alzheimer's Society

Research Reference: Yo-el Ju et al, 'Sleep disruption and risk of preclinical Alzheimer's disease', presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 64th annual meeting in New Orleans, February 14 2012.