SIS – Sleep improvement study

The Sleep Improvement Study (SIS) team is investigating possible links between poor sleep, cognitive decline and brain health.

The study is recruiting older Australians who feel that they are sleeping poorly. Individuals have their sleep monitored at the Centre for Sleep Science at UWA. Once these initial assessments are complete, participants then undertake a program to improve their sleep.

The participants undergo tests to measure their memory and thinking abilities, as well as brain scans which measure their brain health and other biomarkers. Participants also donate a blood sample which is used to examine biomarkers that are of interest to Alzheimer’s disease.

One of the elements the team is investigating is if improving sleep could have an important role to play in slowing the rates at which some toxins, which are known to be markers of Alzheimer’s, are accumulating in the brain.

SIS has received funding from the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC), and the US-based Alzheimer’s Association and is also supported by ARA.

Additional funding will be provided by the NHMRC thanks to a successful Synergy Grant application on which Associate Professor Stephanie Rainey-Smith and Professor Ralph Martins are Investigators. The Synergy Grant, appropriately named ‘SIESTA’ brings together leading researchers from across Australia and the world to improve understanding of how sleep disturbance contributes to cognitive decline, which can lead to dementia. A/Professor Rainey-Smith will use her share of the $5 million grant to fund additional assessments in SIS, whilst Professor Martins will use his share to fund biomarker investigations across multiple sleep studies.

The impact

Poor sleep is known to affect cardiovascular health, increase risk of diabetes, as well as increasing the risk of developing dementia in later life. Improving sleep could play an important role in delaying and preventing the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias.