Utah State University doctoral student Elizabeth Vernon recently addressed the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference in Los Angeles, California. She presented her research results on how women 65 and older who took a sleep medication were at a 35 percent decreased risk of developing Alzheimer’s.
“We can’t say it causes anything,” Vernon clarifies. “We can say there is an association between those women who had a sleep disturbance like insomnia, and were taking those medications.”
She says her research also indicates men taking sleep medication were at an almost four times increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s disease.
“This research continues to add to the differences in males and females with risk of Alzheimer’s disease and the worth of examining them separately than combining males and females together and looking at their risk,” says Vernon. “In addition, I think it also shows, especially in males, sleep medications are associated with negative events in older adults and they should be used with caution.”
Vernon said sleep disruption is a common behavioral challenge that significantly reduces the quality of life for people with dementia, as well as their caregivers and family members.