Alzheimer's, Dementia & Mental Health
Cognitive Decline in Older Men Linked to Poor Sleep
It was the quality of sleep that predicted future
cognitive decline in this study, not the quantity
March 31, 2014 - A new study of older men found a
link between poor sleep quality and the development of cognitive decline
over three to four years. Results show that higher levels of fragmented
sleep and lower sleep efficiency were associated with a 40 to 50 percent
increase in the odds of clinically significant decline in executive
function, which was similar in magnitude to the effect of a five-year
increase in age.
In contrast, sleep duration was not related to
subsequent cognitive decline.
“It was the quality of sleep that predicted future
cognitive decline in this study, not the quantity,” said lead author
Terri Blackwell, MA, senior statistician at the California Pacific
Medical Center Research Institute (CPMCRI) in San Francisco, Calif.
“With the rate of cognitive impairment increasing and the high
prevalence of sleep problems in the elderly, it is important to
determine prospective associations with sleep and cognitive decline.”
The study involved 2,822 community-dwelling older
men at six clinical centers in the U.S. Participants had a mean age of
76 years. The study is published in the April 1 issue of the journal
“This study provides an important reminder that
healthy sleep involves both the quantity and quality of sleep,” said
American Academy of Sleep Medicine President Dr. M. Safwan Badr.
“As one of the pillars of a healthy lifestyle,
sleep is essential for optimal cognitive functioning.”
The population-based, longitudinal study was
conducted by a research team led by Dr. Katie Stone, senior scientist at
CPMCRI in San Francisco, Calif. Institutions represented by study
collaborators include the University of California, San Francisco;
University of California, San Diego; Harvard Medical School; University
of Minnesota; and several Veterans Affairs medical centers.
An average of five nights of objective sleep data
were collected from each participant using a wrist actigraph. Cognitive
function assessment included evaluation of attention and executive
function using the Trails B test. According to the authors, executive
function is the ability for planning or decision making, error
correction or trouble shooting, and abstract thinking. Results were
adjusted for potential confounding factors such as depressive symptoms,
comorbidities and medication use.
The underlying mechanisms relating disturbed sleep
to cognitive decline remain unknown, the authors noted. They added that
additional research is needed to determine if these associations hold
after a longer follow-up period.
Funding was provided by the National Heart, Lung,
and Blood Institute (NHLBI) for the Outcomes of Sleep Disorders in Men
Study, an ancillary study of the parent Osteoporotic Fractures in Men (MrOS)
Study, which was supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The monthly, peer-reviewed, scientific journal
Sleep is published online by the Associated Professional Sleep Societies
LLC, a joint venture of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the
Sleep Research Society (www.aasmnet.org).
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