Association of sleep-disordered breathing with decreased cognitive function among patients with dementia

J Sleep Res. 2014 Oct;23(5):517-23. doi: 10.1111/jsr.12167. Epub 2014 Jun 27.


Sleep is known to be essential for proper cognitive functioning. Sleep disturbance, especially respiratory disturbance during sleep, is a risk factor for the development of dementia. However, it is not known whether hypopnoea during sleep is related to severity of cognitive function in patients already diagnosed with dementia. Considering the high prevalence of sleep problems in aged people, it is important to determine if hypopnoea during sleep contributes to dementia. In addition, it would be desirable to develop a feasible method for objectively evaluating sleep in patients with dementia. For this purpose, a simple sleep recorder that employs single or dual bioparameter recording, which is defined as a type-4 portable monitor, is suitable. In this study, a type-4 sleep recorder was used to evaluate respiratory function during sleep in 111 patients with dementia, and data suggesting a possible relationship with cognitive function levels were examined. Multivariate logistic regression was used to investigate the association of severity of dementia with sleep-disordered breathing, age, diabetes, dyslipidaemia and hypertension. It was found that the respiratory disturbance index was associated with severity of cognitive dysfunction in our subjects. Furthermore, patients younger than 80 years were more susceptible to lower cognitive function associated with sleep-disordered breathing than patients 80 years old or over, because an increase in the respiratory disturbance index was associated with deteriorated cognitive function only in the former age group. These results suggest that proper treatment of sleep apnea is important for the preservation of cognitive function, especially in patients with early-stage dementia.

Keywords: dementia; elderly people; hypoxia; sleep-disordered breathing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cognition / physiology
  • Cognition Disorders / complications*
  • Cognition Disorders / physiopathology*
  • Dementia / complications*
  • Dementia / physiopathology
  • Diabetes Mellitus
  • Dyslipidemias / complications
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension / complications
  • Japan
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiration
  • Risk Factors
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / complications*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology*