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Sleep Mediates Age-Related Executive Function for Older Adults with Limited Cognitive Reserve

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  15 December 2020

Denise Parker
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Romola S. Bucks
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Stephanie R. Rainey-Smith
Affiliation:
School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Ralph and Patricia Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, 8 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA 6008, Australia
Erica Hodgson
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Lara Fine
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia
Hamid R. Sohrabi
Affiliation:
Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Ralph and Patricia Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, 8 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA 6008, Australia Department of Biomedical Sciences. Macquarie University, Level 1, 75 Talavera Road, NSW 2109, Australia Centre for Healthy Ageing, College of Science, Health, Engineering and Education (SHEE), Murdoch University, 90 South Street, Murdoch, WA 6150, Australia
Ralph N. Martins
Affiliation:
School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Ralph and Patricia Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, 8 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA 6008, Australia Department of Biomedical Sciences. Macquarie University, Level 1, 75 Talavera Road, NSW 2109, Australia
Michael Weinborn
Affiliation:
School of Psychological Science, University of Western Australia, 35 Stirling Highway, Perth, WA 6009, Australia School of Medical and Health Sciences, Edith Cowan University, 270 Joondalup Drive, Joondalup, WA 6027, Australia Australian Alzheimer’s Research Foundation, Ralph and Patricia Sarich Neuroscience Research Institute, 8 Verdun Street, Nedlands, WA 6008, Australia
Corresponding

Abstract

Objective:

Sleep quantity and quality are associated with executive function (EF) in experimental studies, and in individuals with sleep disorders. With advancing age, sleep quantity and quality decline, as does the ability to perform EF tasks, suggesting that sleep disruption may contribute to age-related EF declines. This cross-sectional cohort study tested the hypothesis that poorer sleep quality (i.e., the frequency and duration of awakenings) and/or quantity may partly account for age-related EF deficits.

Method:

Community-dwelling older adults (N = 184) completed actigraphic sleep monitoring then a range of EF tasks. Two EF factors were extracted using exploratory structural equation modeling. Sleep variables did not mediate the relationship between age and EF factors. Post hoc moderated mediation analyses were conducted to test whether cognitive reserve compensates for sleep-related EF deficits, using years of education as a proxy measure of cognitive reserve.

Results:

We found a significant interaction between cognitive reserve and the number and frequency of awakenings, explaining a small (approximately 3%), but significant amount of variance in EF. Specifically, in individuals with fewer than 11 years of education, greater sleep disturbance was associated with poorer EF, but sleep did not impact EF in those with more education. There was no association between age and sleep quantity.

Conclusions:

This study highlights the role of cognitive reserve in the sleep–EF relationship, suggesting individuals with greater cognitive reserve may be able to counter the impact of disturbed sleep on EF. Therefore, improving sleep may confer some protection against EF deficits in vulnerable older adults.

Type
Regular Research
Copyright
Copyright © INS. Published by Cambridge University Press, 2020

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