Previous research has shown that healthy young adults with relatively fast reaction times on daytime testing have significantly more nocturnal slow-wave sleep than do age-matched subjects with relatively slow reaction times on such testing. The current study was conducted to examine the relationship between slow-wave sleep and cognitive performance among older adults with and without insomnia complaints. A sample of 32 noncomplaining older (age > or = 60 years) normal sleepers and a like-aged sample of 32 insomniacs, recruited to participate in a larger study, served as subjects. All subjects underwent nocturnal sleep monitoring immediately prior to undergoing a battery of daytime tests that measured simple reaction time, vigilance/signal detection, and complex reaction time. Results from the normal sleepers showed no relationship between daytime cognitive performance measures and a variety of computer-derived nocturnal slow-wave sleep measures. In contrast, insomniac subjects with relatively slow reaction times showed relative deficits in a spectral analytically derived measure of slow-wave power in the 2 to 4 Hz bandwidth. These results suggest that relative performance deficits among some older insomniacs may be related to specific slow-wave sleep deficiencies. However, among older normal sleepers, intersubject differences in performance appear unrelated to slow-wave sleep measures. Additional research is needed to further explore the possible restorative role slow-wave sleep may serve for cognitive functions other than those examined herein.
"Depending on the definition and sample studied, sleep-disordered breathing is thought to affect 10–60% of the population , , . These sleep disturbances in turn can theoretically accelerate the aging process  and are associated with serious health consequences, including an increased risk for cardiovascular disease , , , , , , mortality , , , , , , , and the presence of cognitive deficits which clearly extend beyond those primarily associated with sleepiness , , , , , , . In addition, evidence from a recent study linked the presence of untreated obstructive sleep apnea with an increased risk of developing dementia . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Increasing age is associated with a decline in cognition and motor skills, while at the same time exacerbating one's risk of developing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). OSA-related cognitive deficits are highly prevalent and can affect various memory systems including overnight memory consolidation on a motor sequence task. Thus, the aim of our study was to examine the effect of aging on sleep-dependent motor memory consolidation in patients with and without OSA.
We studied 44 patients (19-68 years) who had been referred by a physician for a baseline polysomnography (PSG) evaluation. Based on their PSG, patients were assigned either to the OSA group (AHI>5/h), or control (Non-OSA) group (AHI<5/h). All subjects performed the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT) and the Motor Sequence Learning Task (MST) in the evening and again in the morning after their PSG.
Despite similar learning in the evening, OSA subjects showed significantly less overnight improvement on the MST, both for immediate (OSA -2.7%±2.8% vs. controls 12.2%±3.5%; p = 0.002) and plateau improvement (OSA 4.9%±2.3% vs. controls 21.1%±4.0%; p = 0.001). Within the OSA group, there was a significant negative correlation between overnight MST improvement and age (r(2) = 0.3; p = 0.01), an effect that was not observed in the Non-OSA group (r(2) = 0.08; p = 0.23).
Consistent with previous research, healthy sleepers demonstrated a higher degree of sleep-dependent overnight improvement on the MST, an effect not mitigated by increasing age. However, the presence of untreated obstructive sleep apnea is associated with an aging-related cognitive deficit, otherwise not present in individuals without OSA. As other research has linked the presence of OSA to a higher likelihood of developing dementia, future studies are necessary to examine if the inhibition of memory consolidation is tied to the onset of neurodegenerative disease.
PLoS ONE 01/2014; 9(1):e85918. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0085918 · 3.23 Impact Factor
"Psychomotor deficits related to insomnia and old age point to underlying brain processes, which may relate to the functioning of the prefrontal cortex. Previously, insomnia in older adults has been linked with performance deficits related to the prefrontal cortex, and namely, impairment in attention and psychomotor vigilance  . The prefrontal cortex has been highlighted as a brain region especially vulnerable to both sleep deprivation and aging  . "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The present study utilized a population-based sample investigating the following aims: (1) compare the longitudinal course of insomnia in middle-aged and older adults and (2) examine age-related differences on subjective complaint and objective performance in middle-aged and older adults based on the course of insomnia.
1657 middle-aged adults (48.16% male, mean age=55.35±4.03years) and 405 older adults (48.40% male, mean age=70.13±3.88years) from the Korean Genome and Epidemiology Study (KoGES) were classified into 4 groups - no insomnia (NI), single episode insomnia (SEI), remitted persistent insomnia (PI-R), and ongoing persistent insomnia (PI-O) based on their course of insomnia over 5 time points spaced two years apart. Their performance on the psychomotor vigilance task (PVT) and subjective daytime sleepiness were compared across different insomnia groups, and the results were compared between middle-aged adults and older adults.
Analysis of covariance indicated that subjective daytime sleepiness was significantly different across the insomnia groups in middle-aged adults based on insomnia group (P=<.0001), but, did not affect objective vigilance performance. In contrast, older adults displayed significantly different PVT response time, but not daytime sleepiness, based on insomnia group (P=0.03).
Insomnia impacts psychomotor performance and subjective sleepiness differently, based on age group. There may be underlying processes associated with the aging that amplifies the impact of insomnia on vigilance performance, yet lessens perceived sleepiness in older adults.
Journal of psychosomatic research 12/2013; 75(6):532-8. DOI:10.1016/j.jpsychores.2013.07.013 · 2.74 Impact Factor
"In an earlier study, Crenshaw and Edinger  investigated whether slow-wave sleep was related to performance on " simple reaction time " and vigilance tasks among older adults with normal sleep and those with insomnia. Older adults who were normal sleepers showed no relationship between cognitive performance and slow-wave sleep. "
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Age-related cognitive impairments often include difficulty retrieving memories, particularly those that rely on executive control. In this paper we discuss the influence of the prefrontal cortex on memory retrieval, and the specific memory processes associated with the prefrontal cortex that decline in late adulthood. We conclude that preretrieval processes associated with preparation to make a memory judgment are impaired, leading to greater reliance on postretrieval processes. This is consistent with the view that impairments in executive control significantly contribute to deficits in controlled retrieval. Finally, we discuss age-related changes in sleep as a potential mechanism that contributes to deficiencies in executive control that are important for efficient retrieval. The sleep literature points to the importance of slow-wave sleep in restoration of prefrontal cortex function. Given that slow-wave sleep significantly declines with age, we hypothesize that age-related changes in slow-wave sleep could mediate age-related decline in executive control, manifesting a robust deficit in controlled memory retrieval processes. Interventions, like physical activity, that improve sleep could be effective methods to enhance controlled memory processes in late life.
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