When residents begin to take more naps, it might not just be that they are tired. New research indicates it might be an early warning sign of advancing Alzheimer’s disease.

For the study, researchers analyzed the brains of 13 deceased people with Alzheimer’s and seven people without the disease. They concluded that the disease attacks brain regions responsible for wakefulness during the day, and that these regions are among the first damaged by the disease.

Tau protein is thought to stop from working brain regions that help control awakeness, the authors noted. Amyloid protein, however, which also is associated with the neurocognitive disorder, didn’t appear to play a role.

The study was published Aug. 12 in the journal Alzheimer’s and Dementia.

A study published in January in the journal Science Translational Medicine also found that poor-quality sleep and daytime napping could be an early sign of Alzheimer’s disease in older adults.

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