A study from the recently completed Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC) in Denmark explored the relationship between poor sleep and dementia in older veterans.
Kristine Yaffe, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues, concluded that veterans who had a diagnosis of non-specific sleep disturbance, apnea, or insomnia at baseline had a 30% increased risk of dementia compared with veterans with no diagnosed sleep problems.
Sleep disturbance is a risk factor for cognitive decline and dementia, but this association had not been carefully investigated in older veterans. The retrospective study of sleep disturbance and dementia reviewed data from 200,000 veterans age 55 and older, 96.5% of whom were male.
Researchers also found that veterans with both PTSD and sleep disturbance had an 80% increased risk of dementia. “This is the first investigation into the link between sleep disturbance and dementia in a large cohort of older, mostly male veterans,” said Yaffe. “Further research is needed to clarify the role of sleep disturbance as either a risk factor for, or an early symptom of, dementia among veterans, and in other populations as well.”