Interrupted sleep has been linked to interrupted and broken memory, in a new study from Stanford University in California.

Researchers found mice that woke up multiple times from their sleep had trouble recognizing old objects and forming new memories, while mice that experienced uninterrupted sleep were able to identify old objects, which allowed them to be curious about new ones.

Documented in the "Proceedings of the National Academy of Science," the study involved a light pulse technique called "optogenetics."

Light pulses were delivered to the brain cells of each mouse, allowing the switch between sleep and awake states as controlled by the researchers. Even though one group of mice experienced disruptions during their sleep, both groups logged the same total number of sleep hours. Quality and intensity of sleep were also taken into account during the study.

"Sleep continuity is one of the main factors affected in various pathological conditions that impact memory, including Alzheimer's and other age-related cognitive deficits," lead researcher Dr. Luis de Lecea concluded in the report.

More than five million Americans are affected by Alzheimer's, and more than 22 million by sleep apnea, according to the Alzheimer's Association and the American Sleep Apnea Association, respectively.