Disturbed Sleep Linked to Cognitive Decline in Women

Women with cognitive decline twice as likely to have difficulties sleeping at night

MONDAY, July 16 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly women with cognitive decline are more likely than their peers to have trouble falling asleep and staying asleep at night and a tendency to nap for more than two hours during the day, according to study findings published in the July 17 issue of Neurology.

Kristine Yaffe, M.D., of the University of California San Francisco, and colleagues conducted a study of 2,474 women with a mean age of 68.9 years and without dementia. The women were tested for signs of cognitive decline over a period of up to 15 years. Data was gathered using either the modified Mini-Mental State Examination or Trails B. At the end of the study, the subjects' sleep patterns were monitored to record total sleep hours, sleep efficiency, sleep latency, napping and time awake after sleep onset.

Data from the modified Mini-Mental State Examination showed that 11 percent of women experienced cognitive decline, while 15 percent of women had cognitive decline according to Trails B. Women with cognitive decline were more likely than the others to have less than 70 percent sleep efficiency and to nap for more than two hours a day.

"Perhaps the most likely reason why memory loss may increase the risk of sleep disturbances is that they share a common underlying cause, such as brain changes seen with Alzheimer disease or other dementias that could increase risk of both memory loss and sleep problems," said Yaffe, in a statement. "Another reason could be that women with memory problems may also have anxiety or depression that could affect their sleep."

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