Australian researchers have found that disrupted sleep for elderly men may contribute to declining cognitive functions. In a study published recently, the team from the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health (AISH) at Flinders University in South Australia (SA) measured a group of 477 older men’s cognitive function after interrupted sleep.
Participants were subjected to a home-based polysomnography measuring the quality of their sleep and then undertook cognitive testing.Researchers found that day-to-day activities such as driving, walking and gardening could be impaired by poor sleep, urging men over 65 who suffer from a disrupted sleep pattern to seek medical advice.
“This can be exacerbated by sleep apnoea, which is a common sleep-related breathing disorder, which may be under-diagnosed and lead to daytime cognitive dysfunction including memory and attention impairment,” Andrew Vakulin, the lead author of the study, said in a media release on Sunday.
“Further longitudinal investigation is needed to connect sleep apnoea with general ‘microarchitectural’ changes in older people’s sleep patterns.
“However, advice from a general practitioner (GP) or referral to sleep experts is recommended with both conditions if they are causing concern to individuals.” Co-author Jesse Parker said that elderly people were more likely to be affected because they generally had more interrupted sleep patterns.
“Less deep sleep and more light sleep is related to slower responses in cognitive function,” said Parker. “While obstructive sleep apnoea itself is not related to cognitive function in older and younger men, we note that people aged 65 and older more frequently have disrupted sleep.”
Disrupted sleep has previously been linked to increased chances of developing cancer of the breast, colon, ovaries and prostate.