Medical Research: What is the background for this study?
Answer: Our study involved ~1500 men who were followed from 1970 to 2010. All participants were 50 years old at the start of study.
Medical Research: What are the main findings?
Answer: Men with reports of sleep disturbances had a 50%-higher risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease during the 40-year follow-up period, than men without reports of sleep disturbances.
Medical Research: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Answer: Approximately every other adult in North America reports the quality of their nighttime sleep as being insufficient. Furthermore, insomnia and decreased sleep quality are typical attending ills of many widespread diseases in modern societies (e.g. diabetes, hypertension, and obesity). Thus, in my view our findings are relevant for both the public and healthcare practitioners, as they suggest that strategies aimed at improving sleep quality (e.g. regular exercise) may help reduce the neurodegenerative risk for a significant proportion of our society.
Medical Research: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Answer: Studies utilizing methods that objectively measure sleep (e.g. nocturnal polysomnography) will help to further our understanding as to why poor sleep patterns increases our risk to develop neurodegenerative diseases. In this context, interventional studies with the intention of improving sleep patterns will be necessary to test whether such interventions can reduce the risk of developing neurodegenerative diseases and thus perhaps maintain cognitive health into older age.
Christian Benedict, Liisa Byberg, Jonathan Cedernaes, Pleunie S. Hogenkamp, Vilmantas Giedratis, Lena Kilander, Lars Lind, Lars Lannfelt, Helgi B. Schiöth. Self-reported sleep disturbance is associated with Alzheimer’s disease risk in men. Alzheimer’s & Dementia, 2014; DOI: 10.1016/j.jalz.2014.08.104