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Self-reported sleep disturbance and incidence of dementia in ageing men
  1. Maria K Luojus1,
  2. Soili M Lehto2,3,
  3. Tommi Tolmunen2,3,
  4. Anna-Katharine Brem4,5,6,
  5. Eija Lönnroos1,
  6. Jussi Kauhanen1
  1. 1Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  2. 2Institute of Clinical Medicine/Psychiatry, University of Eastern Finland, Kuopio, Finland
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry, Kuopio University Hospital, Kuopio, Finland
  4. 4Max Planck Institute of Psychiatry, Munich, Germany
  5. 5Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  6. 6Department of Neurology, Berenson-Allen Center for Noninvasive Brain Stimulation, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  1. Correspondence to Maria K Luojus, Institute of Public Health and Clinical Nutrition, University of Eastern Finland, P.O. Box 1627, Kuopio 70211, Finland; maria.luojus{at}


Background Sleep disturbance is suggested to contribute to the development of dementia. However, prospective longitudinal data from middle-aged populations are scarce.

Methods We investigated a population-based sample of 2386 men aged 42–62 years at baseline during 1984–1989. Participants having a history of mental illnesses, psychiatric medication, Parkinson's disease or dementia within 2 years after baseline (n=296) were excluded. Difficulty falling asleep or maintaining sleep, sleep duration and daytime tiredness were enquired. Dementia diagnoses (n=287) between 1984 and 2014 were obtained through linkage with hospital discharge, national death and special reimbursement registers. Cox proportional hazards analyses were performed for all dementias, and separately for Alzheimer's disease (n=234) and other phenotypes (n=53). Additional analyses were performed on a subsample of an apolipoprotein E (APOE) genotype-tested population (n=1199).

Results The risk ratio for dementia was 1.58 (95% CI 1.10 to 2.27) in men with frequent sleep disturbance after adjustments for age, examination year, elevated depressive symptoms, physical activity, alcohol consumption, cumulative smoking history, systolic blood pressure, body mass index, low-density lipoprotein and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol, high-sensitivity C reactive protein, cardiovascular disease history, education years and living alone. Daytime tiredness and sleep duration were not associated with dementia in adjusted analysis. In the APOE subsample, both APOE ε4 genotype and frequent sleep disturbance were associated with increased dementia risk, but in the interaction analysis they had no joint effect.

Conclusions Self-reported frequent sleep disturbance in middle-aged men may relate to the development of dementia in later life. Having an APOE ε4 genotype did not affect the relationship.

  • Epidemiology of chronic diseases

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  • Contributors MKL planned and conducted the study (including statistical analyses), and wrote the manuscript. SML, TT, A-KB and JK planned the study, revised the manuscript and participated in the statistical analyses. EL planned the revised manuscript and participated in the statistical analyses.

  • Funding MKL was supported by a grant from the Juha Vainio Foundation. The work of SML was supported by the Paulo Foundation.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Ethics approval Committee on Research Ethics of the University of Kuopio.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.