Prevalence of sleep disturbances in mild cognitive impairment and dementing disorders: a multicenter Italian clinical cross-sectional study on 431 patients

Dement Geriatr Cogn Disord. 2012;33(1):50-8. doi: 10.1159/000335363. Epub 2012 Mar 8.


Background/aims: Sleep disturbances are common in the elderly and in persons with cognitive decline. The aim of this study was to describe frequency and characteristics of insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, sleep-disordered breathing, REM behavior disorder and restless legs syndrome in a large cohort of persons with mild cognitive impairment or dementia.

Methods: 431 consecutive patients were enrolled in 10 Italian neurological centers: 204 had Alzheimer's disease, 138 mild cognitive impairment, 43 vascular dementia, 25 frontotemporal dementia and 21 Lewy body dementia or Parkinson's disease dementia. Sleep disorders were investigated with a battery of standardized questions and questionnaires.

Results: Over 60% of persons had one or more sleep disturbances almost invariably associated one to another without any evident and specific pattern of co-occurrence. Persons with Alzheimer's disease and those with mild cognitive impairment had the same frequency of any sleep disorder. Sleep-disordered breathing was more frequent in vascular dementia. REM behavior disorder was more represented in Lewy body or Parkinson's disease dementia.

Conclusion: A careful clinical evaluation of sleep disorders should be performed routinely in the clinical setting of persons with cognitive decline. Instrumental supports should be used only in selected patients.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / complications
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Dementia / complications
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Depression / etiology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Educational Status
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Polysomnography
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / etiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / etiology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / etiology