Delineating relationships between sleep-wake disturbances, brain changes, dementia risk factors and the accumulation of dementia pathology
Dementia is the leading cause of disability in persons over the age of 65 in Australia, with Alzheimer’s disease alone accounting for more than 40% of all dementia cases. By addressing risk factors for developing dementia including hypertension, depression, and physical inactivity, one-third of Alzheimer’s Disease cases and up to 40% of all dementia cases may be preventable. Sleep disturbances including poor sleep quality, and shorter sleep duration, as well as sleep disorders such as sleep apnoea are present in up to 60% of older adults over the age of 60, and in up to 70% of those with dementia. These types of sleep problems are emerging as another significant yet modifiable (e.g. treatment with melatonin or CPAP devices) risk factor for dementia. However, to date how these sleep problems relate over time to brain and cognition changes, underlying dementia processes, and other risk factors has not been thoroughly investigated. We will address this gap through comprehensively characterising sleep problems in older adults with early dementia or at risk for dementia. Furthermore, we will develop tools that will provide personalised risk profile reports that can be implemented by clinicians to guide strategies for dementia management and prevention for individual patients.
Dr McKinnon is employed by the University of Sydney, and is a member of Professor Sharon Naismith’s team. In this context, he works as a Research Fellow for the Centre of Excellence to Optimise Sleep in Brain Ageing and Neurodegeneration as well as a Clinical Neuropsychologist for the Healthy Brain Ageing Program.