older woman sleeping
Project Type - Pilot Projects

Sleep, Cognitive Decline, and Dementia – a comparison between China and the US

Investigating the link between sleep and cognitive impairment across different races or countries
Northern America


The pilot aims to compare the association between sleep and cognitive aging, in the US and the Chinese populations, and in different ethnicities. Up to 50% of patients with dementia experience sleep disturbances, which poses a major burden to patients and caregivers. Importantly, sleep problems often occur in the course of preclinical cognitive decline, and a bidirectional relationship has been increasingly recognized, suggesting sleep problems could also lead to an increased risk of dementia. However, the link between sleep and cognitive impairment has rarely been studied and compared across different races or countries, and the underlying mechanisms remain largely unknown. Given that this association could be driven by both genetic and cultural factors, it might be very different in western vs. eastern populations.

Project Details

We will conduct epidemiologic analysis using data from two state-of-the-art prospective studies of aging, the Health, Aging, and Body Composition Study in the US and the Shanghai Aging Study in China, in order to compare the effects of sleep on cognitive aging in the US and Chinese populations and among black, white, and Asian populations; and to explore underlying mechanisms. This line of research is crucial, because sleep disturbances are often present early in cognitive impairment and might help inform the early detection of subclinical dementia. Furthermore, the pilot will identify sleep characteristics that are critical for brain health and provide evidence for the development of sleep interventions among various populations. This will help inform dementia prevention strategies in vulnerable elders.