Change in Sleep Duration and Cognitive Function: Findings from the Whitehall II Study

University College London, Department of Epidemiology and Public Health, London, UK.
Sleep (Impact Factor: 4.59). 05/2011; 34(5):565-73.
Source: PubMed


Evidence from cross-sectional studies shows that sleep is associated with cognitive function. This study examines change in sleep duration as a determinant of cognitive function.
Prospective cohort.
The Whitehall II study.
1459 women and 3972 men aged 45-69 at baseline.
Sleep duration (≤ 5, 6, 7, 8, ≥ 9 h on an average week night) was assessed once between 1997-1999, baseline for the present study, and once between 2002-2004, average follow-up 5.4 years. Cognitive function was measured (2002-2004) using 6 tests: verbal memory, inductive reasoning (Alice Heim 4-I), verbal meaning (Mill Hill), phonemic and semantic fluency, and the Mini Mental State Examination (MMSE). In analyses adjusted for age, sex, and education, and corrected for multiple testing, adverse changes in sleep between baseline and follow-up (decrease from 6, 7, or 8 h, increase from 7 or 8 h) were associated with lower scores on most cognitive function tests. Exceptions were memory, and, for a decrease from 6-8 h only, phonemic fluency. Further adjustment for occupational position attenuated the associations slightly. However, firm evidence remained for an association between an increase from 7 or 8 h sleep and lower cognitive function for all tests, except memory, and between a decrease from 6-8 h sleep and poorer reasoning, vocabulary, and the MMSE. The magnitude of these effects was equivalent to a 4-7 year increase in age.
These results suggest that adverse changes in sleep duration are associated with poorer cognitive function in the middle-aged.

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    • "In fact, almost half of older adults report at least one sleep problem [9], and there is growing concern that sleep complaints and disturbances might have negative effects on cognition [10]. While many studies on older adults show evidence for a negative impact of self-reported short [11] [12] [13] [14] [15] [16] [17] [18] [19] [20] [21] [22] [23] [24] [25] and long [11–13,16,17,20,22,23,26–30] sleep on cognitive function, others have failed to find relationships between sleep and everyday functioning in this age group [19] [31]. "

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    • "Self-reported short sleep, tiredness and fatigue are more strongly associated with subjective measures of cognitive function than with objective measures [7]. Findings from the Whitehall II study show that adverse changes in sleep over time (decrease from 6, 7 or 8 hours, or increase from 7 or 8 hours) are associated with lower scores on a variety of cognitive function tests, but not memory function [10]. Similarly, a Spanish study found that people who sleep for 11 hours or more per night have significantly lower global cognition scores than those who sleep for 7 hours [11]. "

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