sleep insomnia

  • A new study found that people whose sleep is fragmented and who don’t have a consistent sleep cycle are significantly more likely to have early signs of Alzheimer’s disease in the brain.
  • This isn’t the first study to connect bad sleep with the buildup of proteins known as amyloid plaques, which can be indications of Alzheimer’s and dementia.
  • We still don’t know whether sleeping poorly causes the buildup or whether the buildup makes it harder to sleep, but it’s possible both are true.

Fragmented sleep, marked by repeated wake-ups during the night and a need to nap during the day, could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

A study recently published in the journal JAMA Neurology found that adults with healthy memories who had disrupted circadian rhythms — also known as sleep cycles — had protein buildups of a substance called amyloid plaque, which can serve as an early sign of Alzheimer’s.

The damage that causes Alzheimer’s-associated memory loss can begin 15 or 20 years before symptoms of the disease become evident. Other studies have shown that there’s a connection between poor sleep and Alzheimer’s or dementia as well. This new study provides more evidence of that link, and indicates that sleep disruption might be a very early warning sign of future neurodegenerative disease.

The findings also suggest that working to treat sleep issues early may help protect brain health down the road — though more research is needed to find out.

brain alzheimer's beta-amyloid plaques

A growing body of evidence

For the new study, researchers tracked the sleep cycles of 189 cognitively healthy adults with an average age of 66. They also analyzed their Read More Here