Flinders University experts have warned against disrupted sleep that can be linked to cognitive dysfunction. The researchers discovered that it is advisable that men aged 65 and over should monitor their slumber patterns and seek medical advice. In a new article published in the Journal of Sleep Research, the Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health research group studied a group of 477 middle-aged and older men's attention and processing speed in relation to their sleep.
The participants from the Florey Adelaide Male Ageing Study undertook cognitive testing and a successful sleep study. "Less deep sleep and more light sleep is related to slower responses on cognitive function tests," said lead author Jesse Parker.
"While obstructive sleep apnoea itself is not directly related to cognitive function in all men studied, we did note that in men aged 65 and older, more light sleep was related to worse attention and processing speed." Senior author of the study, Flinders Associate Professor Andrew Vakulin, said the results suggest that day-to-day activities that rely on optimal attention and cognitive speed such as driving, physical activities and walking might be affected by the encroachment of poor sleep.
The Medical Director of the research group, Professor Robert Adams, noted that decreasing deep sleep as people age is associated with cognition. This emphasises the importance of ongoing research looking at ways to stimulate deep sleep as a means of slowing cognitive decline with age. Further longitudinal investigation is needed to connect poor sleep and sleep apnoea with future changes in sleep patterns and cognitive decline as well as general microarchitectural changes in older people's sleep patterns.