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Adverse changes in sleep duration are associated with lower cognitive scores in middle-aged adults
Date:4/30/2011

DARIEN, Ill. A study in the May 1 issue of the journal Sleep describes how changes in sleep that occur over a five-year period in late middle age affect cognitive function in later life. The findings suggest that women and men who begin sleeping more or less than 6 to 8 hours per night are subject to an accelerated cognitive decline that is equivalent to four to seven years of aging.

Results show that the sleep duration at follow-up of 7.4 percent of women and 8.6 percent of men had increased from "7 or 8 hours" per weeknight at baseline. Compared with participants whose sleep duration was unchanged, this change to a longer sleep duration was associated with lower scores at follow-up on five of six cognitive function tests, with the only exception being the test of short-term verbal memory. The sleep duration at follow-up of about 25 percent of women and 18 percent of men had decreased from "6, 7, or 8 hours" per night at baseline. This change to a shorter sleep duration was associated with lower scores at follow-up on three of the six cognitive tests, with reasoning, vocabulary and global cognitive status all being affected adversely. Surprisingly, an increase in sleep duration from six hours or less showed no evidence of a beneficial effect.

"The main result to come out of our study was that adverse changes in sleep duration appear to be associated with poorer cognitive function in later-middle age," said lead author Jane Ferrie, PhD, senior research fellow in the University College London Medical School Department of Epidemiology and Public Health in the U.K.

The researchers also found that, in women, sleep duration of 7 hours of sleep per night was associated with the highest score for every cognitive measure, followed closely by 6 hours of nightly sleep. Among men, cognitive function was similar for those who reported sleeping 6, 7 or 8 hours; only short and long sleep durations of less than 6 hours or more than 8 hou
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Contact: Emilee McStay
emcstay@aasmnet.org
630-737-9700
American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Source:Eurekalert

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