Poor sleep quality may be a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease, according to new research.

The study found that brain scans of a group of older people with no mental health problems who reported trouble sleeping were more likely to have a build-up of amyloid plaques in the brain – a protein that is found in high concentrations in the brains of patients with Alzheimer’s disease.

The scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison acknowledge that further research is needed to determine whether people sleep badly and feel less rested because they are in the early stages of Alzheimer’s or whether a lack of sleep contributes to development of the disease. However, they say that the findings raise the possibility that treating sleep problems might be a tactic to prevent dementia progressing later in life.

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