A study of nearly 2,500 adults found that difficulty falling asleep, compared to other types of insomnia, was the main symptom of insomnia that predicted cognitive impairment 14 years later.
The results show that having difficulty falling asleep in 2002 was associated with cognitive impairment in 2016. More specifically, more frequent difficulty falling asleep predicted episodic memory, executive function, language, processing speed, and more. weaker visuospatial performance. Further analysis found that associations between sleep initiation and subsequent cognition were partially explained by both depressive symptoms and vascular disease in 2014 for all domains except episodic memory, which was only partially explained by depressive symptoms.
“Although there is growing evidence for a link between insomnia and cognitive impairment in the elderly, it has been difficult to interpret the nature of these associations given the extent to which insomnia and cognitive impairment can present itself differently in different individuals, ”said senior author Afsara Zaheed, a graduate student in clinical sciences in the psychology department at the University of Michigan. “By investigating associations between specific insomnia complaints and cognition over time using robust measures of cognitive ability, we hoped to gain more clarity on whether and how these different problems with sleep can lead to poor cognitive outcomes. “
Insomnia involves difficulty falling or staying asleep, or regularly waking up earlier than desired, despite allowing enough time in bed to sleep. Daytime symptoms include fatigue or drowsiness; feeling dissatisfied with sleep; have trouble concentrating; feeling depressed, anxious or irritable; and having low motivation or energy.
The study analyzed data from the Health and Retirement Study, which included 2,496 adults aged 51 and over. In 2002, they reported the frequency of symptoms of insomnia. In 2016, participants’ cognition was assessed as part of the harmonized and operationalized cognitive assessment protocol with a complete neuropsychological battery exploiting episodic memory, executive function, language, visual construction and processing speed. Controlled analyzes for socio-demographic data and basic overall cognitive performance.
“These findings are important given the paucity of treatments currently available for late cognitive impairment, such as Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias,” Zaheed said. “Sleep health and sleep behaviors are often modifiable. These results suggest that regular screening for symptoms of insomnia can help track and identify people who have difficulty falling asleep in the middle or late”. life who might be at risk for developing cognitive impairment later in life.More intervention research is needed to determine whether intervening on the symptoms of insomnia can help prevent or slow the progression of cognitive impairment more late in life. ”
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Material provided by American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Note: Content can be changed for style and length.