Sleep medication use and incident dementia in a nationally representative sample of older adults in the US

Rebecca Robbins, Ralph J. DiClemente, Andrea B. Troxel, Girardin Jean-Louis, Mark Butler, David M. Rapoport, Charles A. Czeisler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Sleep difficulties are common among older adults, and clinical management of sleep difficulties commonly includes sleep medication (pharmacological and non-pharmacological). Our research examines sleep medication use and incident dementia over 8 years using nationally representative data from older adults ages 65 years and older in the United States. Methods: We used data collected from the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS), a nationally-representative longitudinal study of Medicare beneficiaries. Routine sleep medication use (pharmacological and non-pharmacological) was defined as use “most nights” or “every night.” Participants were screened for dementia with validated instruments that assessed memory, orientation, and executive function. We conduct prospective analyses to examine the relationship between routine sleep medication use and incident dementia using Cox proportional hazards modeling and estimated survival curves. Analyses controlled for age, sex, marital status, education, and chronic conditions. Results: Among respondents at baseline (n = 6373), most participants (21%) were age 70–74 years of age. Participants were 59% female and the sample comprised non-Hispanic White (71%). At baseline, 15% of our study sample reported using sleep medication routinely, which is representative of 4.6 million older adults in the US. Covariate adjusted proportional hazard models revealed that routinely using sleep medication was associated with incident dementia (HR = 1.30, 95%CI: 1.10 to 1.53, p < 0.01). Conclusions: Our study observed, in a nationally representative study of older adults in the US across 8 years of data that 15% of older adults report routinely using sleep medication, yet routine use of sleeping medication was associated with incident dementia across the follow-up interval. Future research may examine behavioral approaches to improving sleep among older adults.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)183-189
Number of pages7
JournalSleep Medicine
Volume79
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2021

Keywords

  • Dementia
  • Gerontology
  • Sleep medication
  • Sleep medicine

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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