If a recent study using mice can apply to people, then problems with sleeping could be an early sign for Alzheimer’s, say researchers. Plaques, clumps of protein in the brain, are considered to be a crucial component of the debilitating disease. The recent study showed that as plaques first develop, mice start having problems sleeping. The researchers claim that if that link were to be proven if could help doctors.
Looking for hints to the early onset of Alzheimer’s is considered to be very crucial in being able to treat the disease. People usually do not show any problems with clarity of thought or memory until the late stages of the disease. At that point, certain sections of the brain would have already been destroyed and treatment is next to impossible.
That is the reason that researchers want to start treatments very early before any of the first symptoms appear. If abnormalities in sleep begin early in the development stage of Alzheimer’s, the changes could provide an easily detectable symptom of the disease.
One of the largest areas of research regarding the disease is in plaques of the beta amyloid protein that form inside the brain. The levels of the protein increase and fall naturally over a 24-hour period in both humans and mice. However, permanent plaques are formed by Alzheimer’s disease.
Researchers showed that nocturnal laboratory mice slept 40 minutes per every hour of daylight, but when brain plaques formed, the mice slept for only 30 minutes each hour. Findings in laboratory mice are not always applicable to humans, as there are a number of reasons that can cause trouble with sleeping.