Next Steps in Understanding Patterns of Difficulty Initiating Sleep Among Races, Genders: Afsara Zaheed


The graduate student at the University of Michigan provided insight on the ways to expand the current knowledge about the disparities among races and genders in sleep quality and long-term cognitive outcomes. [WATCH TIME: 3 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 3 minutes

"This has 2 implications. It’s a matter of, who is most at risk or vulnerable for experiencing the symptom? And how can we introduce policies or interventions to reduce exposure to the symptom that might be related to poorer cognitive function later."

A recently conducted study including Asfara Zaheed examined whether longitudinal patterns of difficulty initiating sleep (DIS) are associated with subsequent memory trajectories, and whether associations differ across non-Hispanic Black and White men and women. Presented at the 2022 SLEEP Annual Meeting, June 4-8, in Charlotte, North Carolina, the analysis included 12,565 participants from the Health and Retirement Study who were categorized into 3 mutually exclusive groups: low (reference), persistent, and variable DIS. Episodic memory was assessed using a 10-item word list recall test at 5 biennial waves.

Latent growth curves modeled associations between DIS patterns and subsequent memory level and change, adjusting for sociodemographic (model 1), health conditions (model 2), and depressive symptoms (model 3) in 2002, the origin of the data. Compared with low DIS, persistent (ß = –0.03; P <.01) or variable (ß = –0.07; P <.01) DIS were associated with worse subsequent memory in models 1 and 2. Persistent DIS was most prevalent among White women (5.4% vs 2.4-4.0%), and variable DIS was most prevalent among Black women (24.1% vs 14.0-22.2%).1

Zaheed and colleagues concluded that race/gender differences in the prevalence and predictive value of DIS patterns for subsequent cognitive function highlight the value of an intersectional lens. To learn more about how the clinical significance of these findings, as well as how the community can further expand on them, NeurologyLive® sat down with Zaheed. The graduate student at the University of Michigan also provided commentary on the most pertinent discussion topics she found interesting at the meeting, considering her early career stage.

Click here for more coverage of SLEEP 2022.

1. Zaheed A, Chervin R, Zahodne L. The role of race-gender intersectionality in associations between insomnia patterns and late-life memory trajectories. Presented at: SLEEP 2022; June 4-8; Charlotte, NC. Abstract 0334
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