Sleep disturbance linked to Alzheimer's

4 November 2014

A 40-year study of older men has found that those who had sleep disturbances had a higher risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.

Researchers from Uppsala University followed more than 1,000 men, who were initially 50 years old, between 1970 and 2010. It found that those who self-reported sleep disturbances were linked to an increased risk for Alzheimer’s disease during the 40-year follow-up period, particularly if they occurred late in life. The data suggests that a regular good night’s sleep could support brain health in men.The results are published in the journal Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Christian Benedict, who led the study, said, "We demonstrate that men with self-reported sleep disturbances run a 1.5-fold higher risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease than those without reports of sleep disturbances during a 40-year follow-up period. The later the self-reported sleep disturbance was found the higher the risk was for developing Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest that strategies aimed at improving sleep quality in late life may help reduce the risk to develop Alzheimer’s disease."

“Importantly, there are several lifestyle factors, such as exercise, that can influence your brain’s health. Thus, it must be borne in mind that a multifaceted lifestyle approach comprising good sleep habits is essential for maintaining brain health as you age”, says Christian Benedict.

In an earlier article published in the journal Sleep, Christian Benedict and colleagues showed that a single night of total sleep deprivation increased blood concentrations of brain molecules in young men that typically rise in blood upon acute brain damage. 


Benedict C, et al. Self-reported sleep disturbance is associated with Alzheimer's disease risk in men. Alzheimer’s & Dementia (in press). DOI:

Christian Benedict’s sleep research is primarily supported by the Swedish Brain Foundation (Hjärnfonden) and Novo Nordisk Foundation.


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