Assessing the Correlations With Sleep Issues and Risk of Dementia: Ruth Benca, MD, PhD


The professor and chair of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at Wake Forest School of Medicine provided insight on the signs and risks associated with sleep disorders and Alzheimer disease. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"One of the things that still needs more data on is the impact of treating sleep problems. Just because sleep is an early sign or risk factor, we’re trying to understand how much is causally related."

For patients with Alzheimer disease (AD), common sleep issues include difficulties in falling asleep, arousal at night, repeated awakenings and waking up too early in the morning, and sleepiness and frequent naps during the day. Sleep disorders are among the numerous symptoms that can have a significant impact on both the patient and caregiver’s quality of life. Literature has shown that AD progressively builds up, with milder cognitive stages that often precede it, thus begging the question of how much influence sleep disorders have in this process, and whether treating them could have a direct impact on long-term risk.

Ruth Benca, MD, PhD, among the large group of clinicians in the field trying to further the understanding of correlations between sleep disorders and AD, notes there are several factors to take into consideration when assessing the risk of AD. Benca, a professor and chair of Psychiatry & Human Behavior at Wake Forest School of Medicine, presented a talk at the 2022 SLEEP Annual Meeting, June 4-8, in Charlotte, North Carolina, on the impact and management of sleep problems in patients with AD and their caregivers. Following that, she sat down with NeurologyLive® to discuss the precursor sleep issues to AD, differences in sex and race, and the critical need to treat sleep disorders early as possible.

Click here for more coverage of SLEEP 2022.

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