Poor sleep among veterans linked to dementia

U.S. army uniform with American flagMilitary veterans who have difficulty getting a good night’s sleep have a higher risk of dementia as they age, according to a study presented at the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Copenhagen, Denmark, in July.

Lead researcher Dr. Kristine Yaffe, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California San Francisco, and her colleagues conducted a retrospective study of sleep disturbances and dementia among 200,000 veterans—virtually all men—ages 55 and older. Studying eight years of medical records, researchers found that veterans who had been diagnosed with sleep apnea, insomnia or a nonspecific sleep disturbance had a 30% increased risk of dementia compared with veterans who weren’t diagnosed with any sleep difficulties. Post-traumatic stress disorder exacerbated the effects: Veterans diagnosed with PTSD in addition to a sleep problem had an 80% increased risk of dementia.