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UVA explores link between sleep and the aging brain

Does poor sleep lead to dementia, or does dementia cause poor sleep? UVA hopes to find out.
UVA School of Nursing
Does poor sleep lead to dementia, or does dementia cause poor sleep? UVA hopes to find out.

If you’re 65 or older, feel like you’re not as sharp mentally as you used to be and have problems with sleep, the University of Virginia wants you. Nursing professor Meghan Mattos is leading an online study in which participants will keep a sleep diary and complete a series of surveys over a period of two years.

“All of the assessments in terms of cognition and mood, quality of life, all of the things that we’re looking at are going to be collected in the privacy of your own home when you feel like doing that,” she says.

The research team hopes to enroll about 150 people and will provide half with access to a free, online program to help with insomnia and other difficulties sleeping.

“SHUT-I OASIS is specific for older adults, and so it touches on things like getting up in the middle of the night and needing to use the restroom. That’s very common. Or wanting to take naps during the day,” Mattos explains.

The goal is to answer one big question.

“If we improve sleep, can we also improve somebody’s brain health?”

The hope is that we can – perhaps preventing or at least delaying the onset of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia. The study is funded, in part, by the National Institutes of Health, and participants can live anywhere in the Commonwealth or the country and still take part.

For more information, email ms2bv@virginia.edu

Updated: February 20, 2023 at 9:06 AM EST
Editor's Note: The University of Virginia is a financial supporter of Radio IQ.
Sandy Hausman is Radio IQ's Charlottesville Bureau Chief