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Restless Nights Linked to Signs of Alzheimer’s, Study Finds

Erik Snyder/Photodisc(ST. LOUIS) -- Could disturbed sleep patterns be linked to early signs of Alzheimer's disease? Researchers think so.

Yo-El Ju, MD, of Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis and colleagues conducted a study in people who showed no cognitive abnormalities.  They found that lying awake regularly and waking up frequently were linked to marked levels of brain plaques that typically lead to Alzheimer's disease, according to MedPage Today.

Though the study's subjects were cognitively normal, the authors noted that Alzheimer's generally begins before symptoms appear and that evidence of the beta-amyloid plaques building up in the brains of patients can be detected long before these symptoms set in.

Ju said more research will be necessary to determine if changes in sleep patterns can be indicative of cognitive decline.  For now, researchers have not uncovered a causal relationship between sleepless nights and Alzheimer's disease.

The study's authors plan to present their findings at the annual meeting of the American Academy of Neurology in New Orleans in April, MedPage reports.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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