Woman in bed struggling to get to sleep - featured image to illustrate sleep disorders and MS

Sleep disorders in women with MS linked to cognitive decline

A new study has found that sleep disorders such as sleep apnea and insomnia may contribute to cognitive decline in females with multiple sclerosis (MS).

The study took data from over 63,000 nurses – 524 of whom had MS – and found that in patients who had evidence of sleep disorders tended to self-report worse cognition four years later. Cognition problems included difficulty following conversations or instructions, and trouble with street navigation.

The study participants with MS had a higher prevalence of common MS sleep disorders such as obstructive sleep apnea, excessive daytime sleepiness, and insomnia.

“Perceived cognitive decline, even in the absence of objective changes, could be an important window of opportunity to identify treatable exacerbating factors, such as sleep disorders,” Dr Tiffany Braley, director of the MS Fatigue and Sleep Clinic at University of Michigan Health and lead author of the study, said.