Sleep-Cognition Hypothesis In maritime Pilots, what is the effect of long-term work-related poor sleep on cognition and amyloid accumulation in healthy middle-aged maritime pilots: methodology of a case-control study

BMJ Open. 2019 Jun 27;9(6):e026992. doi: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-026992.


Introduction: Evidence indicates a bidirectional relationship between poor sleep and Alzheimer's disease (AD). While AD may lead to disruption of normal sleep, poor sleep in itself may play a causal role in the development of AD by influencing the production and/or clearance of the amyloid-beta (Aβ) protein. This led to the hypothesis that extended periods (>10 years) of sleep loss could lead to Aβ accumulation with subsequent cognitive AD-related decline. This manuscript describes the methodology of the SCHIP study, a cohort study in maritime pilots that aims at investigating the relationship between prolonged work-related sleep loss, cognitive function and amyloid accumulation among healthy middle-aged maritime pilots, to test the hypothesis that prolonged sleep loss increases the risk of AD-related cognitive decline.

Methods: Our study sample consists of a group of healthy middle-aged maritime pilots (n=20), who have been exposed to highly irregular work schedules for more than 15 years. The maritime pilots will be compared to a group of healthy, age and education-matched controls (n=20) with normal sleep. Participants will complete 10 days of actigraphy (Actiwatch 2, Philips Respironics) combined with a sleep-wake diary. They will undergo one night of polysomnography, followed by comprehensive assessment of cognitive function. Additionally, participants will undergo amyloid positron emission tomography-CT to measure brain amyloid accumulation and MRI to investigate atrophy and vascular changes.

Analysis: All analyses will be performed using IBM SPSS V.20.0 (SPSS). We will perform independent samples t-tests to compare all outcome parameters.

Ethics and dissemination: The study protocol was approved by our institutional ethical review board (NL55712.091.16, file number 2016-2337) and will be performed according to Good Clinical Practice rules. Data and results will be published in 2020.

Keywords: alzheimer’s disease; amyloid accumulation; cognitive function; neurodegeneration; sleep.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / physiopathology
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / metabolism*
  • Cognition / physiology*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Humans
  • Middle Aged
  • Research Design
  • Sleep Deprivation / psychology*
  • Work Schedule Tolerance / physiology*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides