Waking up feeling refreshed is one of the best things one can experience. Scientists now say good sleep and no sleep apnea are linked with heightened cognitive functioning.
Sleep is essential to lead a healthy life. Even one night of interrupted sleep can often lead to fatigue the following day. Research by Monash University and published in JAMA Network Open looked at 5,946 people from five separate community-based cohorts in the United States who participated in an overnight sleep study and underwent neuropsychological evaluations.
In individuals aged 58 to 89 who had not suffered a stroke or dementia, it was discovered that improved sleep quality and the lack of sleep apnea were related to better cognition throughout five years of follow-up.
Individual variations in sleep patterns, such as the proportion of time spent in light, deep, and REM sleep, were not linked to cognition. According to researchers, these results point to the possibility that sleep consolidation and the lack of sleep apnea may be particularly crucial for maintaining awareness of aging in individuals without dementia.
According to lead author Matthew Pase of the Turner Institute for Brain and Mental Health, the research was conducted to determine which facets of sleep patterns and respiratory-related sleep disturbances were related to cognitive function in middle-aged to older adults.
The relationship between even moderate obstructive sleep apnea and worse cognition is significant since individuals in this community-based trial did not report any particular sleep concerns. According to Pase, the results indicated further research into the benefits of sleep therapies for preserving cognitive function.
The Sleep and Dementia Consortium was founded to investigate relationships between dementia risk and indicators of accelerated brain aging and damage as determined by brain imaging and cognitive testing. This study is the first to emerge from this group.
With methodologically consistent, nightly, home-based sleep studies and neuropsychological tests during five years of follow-up, the consortium gathered gold-standard data from five population-based cohorts across the U.S.
According to Pase, the best data about which facets of sleep are more crucial for cognitive health has been produced as a result. The outcomes were corrected for demographic factors, body mass index, antidepressant and sedative usage, and the interval ( zero to five years) between the sleep study and cognitive testing.
"At least half our sample had evidence of at least mild obstructive sleep apnea. I think the most interesting finding is that participants that have mild to severe sleep apnea had worse cognition, so they had worse thinking and memory performance, for example."- Pase
He concludes that the results are interesting since several studies have suggested links between obstructive sleep apnea and worse cognition. Still, they have relied heavily on participants who already had a diagnosis. The main result is that several aspects of sleep, especially the quality of someone's nightly sleep and whether or not they have sleep apnea, are crucial for cognitive health.
- JAMA Network Open. Sleep Architecture, Obstructive Sleep Apnea, and Cognitive Function in Adults.
- National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute. Why Is Sleep Important?
- Alzheimer’s Association International Conference. Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC®) | July 16-20, 2023 | Amsterdam, Netherlands and Online.