Background: Normal aging and dementia are characterized by increased prevalence of sleep disorders and alterations of both sleep continuity and architecture. However, little is still known about the nature of sleep in mild cognitive impairment (MCI), which is presumably situated on the continuum from healthy aging to dementia. This unsystematic review summarizes the current literature on the prevalence and severity of sleep disturbances in MCI.
Methods: Eighteen studies addressing sleep/night-time disturbances among other neuropsychiatric symptoms in individuals with MCI were identified through a search of databases and an examination of reference lists of selected papers. Fifteen of those studies reported data on prevalence or severity of sleep/night-time disturbances.
Results: Results indicated that 14–59% of patients with MCI had sleep disturbances. These disturbances were often identified as one of the four most prevalent neuropsychiatric symptoms of MCI and were considered as clinically significant in some studies. In addition, there was some evidence that the prevalence of sleep disturbances in MCI is intermediate between that of normal aging and dementia. Longitudinal data suggest that sleep problems are associated with both incident MCI and dementia.
Conclusions: These findings support the hypothesis that sleep disturbances are one of the core non-cognitive symptoms of MCI. It remains to be known whether sleep problems could help to identify those individuals with MCI who will eventually develop dementia. Studies characterizing sleep more systematically are needed to verify this proposition and to clarify the associations between sleep disturbances and other neuropsychiatric symptoms of MCI.