Sleep Meds Tied to Higher Dementia Risk in White Older Adults

No such association seen for Black older adults followed for 15 years, regardless of sleep duration

HealthDay News — Frequent sleep medication use is associated with an increased risk for dementia in White older adults, according to a study published online January 31 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Yue Leng, PhD, from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues assessed longitudinal associations between sleep medication use and incident dementia over 15 years. The analysis included data from 3068 community-dwelling older adults (average age, 74.1 years; 41.7% Black; 51.5% female) without dementia.

The researchers found that in adjusted analyses, participants who reported taking sleep medications (5 or more per month vs 1 or less per month) were significantly more likely to develop dementia. However, the association was seen among White participants (hazard ratio, 1.79; 95% CI, 1.21 to 2.66) but not Black participants (hazard ratio, 0.84; 95% CI, 0.38 to 1.83; P =.048). Adjustment for nighttime sleep did not substantially alter the results. Associations persisted across cumulative frequency of sleep medication use and when accounting for a time lag of 3 years.

“We found that the association between sleep medication use and increased dementia risk was independent of sleep duration and disturbances, which argues against the use of hypnotics among individuals at high risk for cognitive impairment,” the authors write.

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