Characterizing sleep problems in persons with Alzheimer's disease and normal elderly

Rochelle E. Tractenberg, Clifford M. Singer, Jeffrey A. Kaye

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Scopus citations


We retrospectively analyzed sleep disturbance symptoms and estimated time in bed from the intake interviews of 399 healthy, non-demented elderly (NDE) and 263 persons with a diagnosis of possible (n = 53) or probable (n = 210) Alzheimer's disease (AD). Our primary objective was to identify what symptoms might underlie an individual's perception of 'sleep problems' and to determine if these were consistent within, and across, our two cohorts. We stratified each cohort according to whether or not they (or their caregiver) indicated that they had a 'sleep problem', and compared the frequency and endorsement rates of each of 21 sleep disturbance symptoms across those who did or did not endorse 'sleep problem'. For less than half of the symptoms in persons with AD, and a quarter of those in NDE, endorsement rates were significantly different depending on whether the reporter (or their sleep partner) did or did not report a sleep problem. Differences in mean frequency ratings between individuals reporting sleep problems relative to those not reporting were observed on 10 symptoms in both cohorts; six of these were the same symptom for both cohorts. When persons with subjective sleep problems in the AD and NDE cohorts were compared, only four of 21 symptoms were endorsed in one and not the other; two symptoms were significantly more frequent in one cohort than the other. Thus, within cohorts, the differences between persons with and without 'sleep problems' were relatively pronounced while the main differences in specific sleep-related symptoms between AD and NDE were not. Observed between-cohort differences appear to be driven by who is reporting, and the high prevalence of daytime sleeping in AD. Within-cohort differences reflect a clear distinction between persons with and without sleep problems, regardless of the reporter.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)97-103
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Sleep Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 2006


  • Alzheimer's disease
  • Healthy elderly
  • Measurement
  • Sleep disturbance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cognitive Neuroscience
  • Behavioral Neuroscience


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