Study data published in JAMA Neurology reveal that circadian rhythm disruption occurs years before memory loss in the progression of Alzheimer's disease, ScienceDaily reported Monday.
"It wasn't that the people in the study were sleep-deprived," explained study author Erik Musiek, continuing "but their sleep tended to be fragmented. Sleeping for eight hours at night is very different from getting eight hours of sleep in one-hour increments during daytime naps."
"In this new study, we found that people with preclinical Alzheimer's disease had more fragmentation in their circadian activity patterns, with more periods of inactivity or sleep during the day and more periods of activity at night," commented study author Yo-El Ju.
In the study, the researchers monitored circadian rhythms in 189 cognitively normal, older adults, most of whom lacked evidence of preclinical Alzheimer's disease.
The investigators found that all participants with abnormal brain scans or abnormal cerebrospinal fluid experienced significant disruptions in their circadian rhythms.
"At the very least, these disruptions in circadian rhythms may serve as a biomarker for preclinical disease," noted Ju, continuing "we want to bring back these subjects in the future to learn more about whether their sleep and circadian rhythm problems lead to increased Alzheimer's risk or whether the Alzheimer's disease brain changes cause sleep/wake cycle and circadian problems."
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