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Wearable technology developers are working to make products as unobtrusive as possible. One way to accomplish this is to have products collect data while the user is sleeping. 

New findings indicate that tech embedded in a headband could record key data on the early stages of Alzheimer’s while a person is sleeping. 

The findings rely on electroencephalography, or EEG, detecting brain wave patterns related to memory, and how memory is processed during deep sleep cycles. 

The results show that the EEG readings can detect stages of mild cognitive impairment consistent with early Alzheimer’s, the researchers state.

Early diagnosis of Alzheimer’s would benefit professional caregivers in creating treatment plans and allowing for residents, patients and their families to make informed care decisions.

Unlike other diseases for which early signs can emerge decades before they become an issue, “early” onset of Alzheimer’s is defined as symptoms appearing any time before age 65. A majority of early Alzheimer’s patients (63%) are aged 55 to 64 years, studies show.

Overall, the average age when Alzheimer’s symptoms, early or not, first appear is 65 and more years.

“This digital biomarker essentially enables any simple EEG headband device to be used as a fitness tracker for brain health,” senior study author Brice McConnell, MD, PhD, said in a statement. “Demonstrating how we can assess digital biomarkers for early indications of disease using accessible and scalable headband devices in a home setting is a huge advancement in catching and mitigating Alzheimer’s disease at the earliest stages.”

The study, which was led by experts from the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Washington University in St. Louis, involved 205 participants with a median age greater than 70. Using wearables remains a promising method of disease detection among older adults, but much room for growth exists, particularly in certain subcategories of health, such as heart disease.