Role of Sleep Chronotype, Circadian Rhythm in Neurocognitive Health: Ashley Curtis, PhD

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The assistant professor at the University of South Florida provided perspective on the influence of circadian rhythm in neurocognitive health and the possibilities of screening for circadian rhythm issues for large-scale clinical trials. [WATCH TIME: 4 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 4 minutes

"We need to do a better job of assessing that, because we know that circadian rhythm is disrupted in mild cognitive impairment in Alzheimer disease, but it’s a bit of the chicken or the egg. We don’t know if the neuropathology itself is causing these circadian disruptions, or if you have a risk factor for circadian disruption and then you’re developing the pathology. There’s not a lot that we can do right now because we’re still in the early stages of drug development and testing, but I do think that will change in the next 10-15 years."

Accumulating evidence supports a link between sleep disorders, disturbed sleep, and adverse brain health, ranging from stroke to subclinical cerebrovascular disease to cognitive outcomes, including the development of Alzheimer disease (AD) and AD-related dementias. Sleep disturbances and disorders, common in aging adults, represent an opportunity for potential prevention or treatment to reduce the burden of poor brain health in the population.

Previous research has shown that regulation of the nervous system by the circadian system occurs early in development and extends throughout life. While early disruption of rhythms can lead to cognitive and behavioral defects later in development, aging appears to also promote cognitive decline by dampening clock function. Ashley Curtis, PhD, an assistant professor and director of the Cognition, Aging, Sleep, and Health (CASH) Lab in. the College of Nursing at the University of South Florida, is among those heavily interested in understanding the bidirectional associations between sleep and cognition in healthy and pathological aging populations.

At the 2024 SLEEP Annual Meeting, held June 1-5, in Houston, Texas, she and a handful of other clinicians presented a session titled “Beyond the Night: Circadian Rhythms, Sleep and Neurocognitive Health in Aging Adults.” In her presentation, she discussed the specific circadian rhythms and chronotypes that might be driving late-life cognitive decline, and the importance behind understanding these factors more in detail. During the meeting, she sat down with NeurologyLive® to detail the role circadian rhythms have on neurocognitive health, and whether they are mediated by things like sex, age, or race. In addition, she gave thoughts on whether sleep status, namely circadian rhythm, should be included in clinical trials for AD, and the feasibility behind testing individuals for this.

Click here for more coverage of SLEEP 2024.

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