Sleep and Cognition in Older Adults

Sleep Med Clin. 2018 Mar;13(1):93-106. doi: 10.1016/j.jsmc.2017.09.009. Epub 2017 Dec 8.


Increased age is associated with normative declines in both sleep and cognitive functioning. Although there are some inconsistencies in the literature, negative sleep changes are associated with worse cognitive functioning. This negative relationship holds true across normal-sleeping older adults, older adults with insomnia, older adults with sleep disordered breathing, cognitively healthy older adults, and older adults with dementia. There are mixed results regarding potential benefits of sleep treatments on cognitive functions; however, this line of research deserves added attention because the potential mechanisms of action are likely distinct from other interventions to improve cognition.

Keywords: Age; Aging; Cognition; Cognitive function; Insomnia; Sleep; Sleep apnea.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cognitive Dysfunction / epidemiology*
  • Dementia / epidemiology*
  • Humans
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / epidemiology
  • Sleep Apnea Syndromes / physiopathology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / epidemiology
  • Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders / physiopathology
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / epidemiology*
  • Sleep Wake Disorders / physiopathology