Impact of Sleep Disorders and Disturbed Sleep on Brain Health: A Scientific Statement from the American Heart Association

Rebecca F. Gottesman, Pamela L. Lutsey, Helene Benveniste, Devin L. Brown, Kelsie M. Full, Jin Moo Lee, Ricardo S. Osorio, Matthew P. Pase, Nancy S. Redeker, Susan Redline, Adam P. Spira

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Accumulating evidence supports a link between sleep disorders, disturbed sleep, and adverse brain health, ranging from stroke to subclinical cerebrovascular disease to cognitive outcomes, including the development of Alzheimer disease and Alzheimer disease-related dementias. Sleep disorders such as sleep-disordered breathing (eg, obstructive sleep apnea), and other sleep disturbances, as well, some of which are also considered sleep disorders (eg, insomnia, sleep fragmentation, circadian rhythm disorders, and extreme sleep duration), have been associated with adverse brain health. Understanding the causal role of sleep disorders and disturbances in the development of adverse brain health is complicated by the common development of sleep disorders among individuals with neurodegenerative disease. In addition to the role of sleep disorders in stroke and cerebrovascular injury, mechanistic hypotheses linking sleep with brain health and biomarker data (blood-based, cerebrospinal fluid-based, and imaging) suggest direct links to Alzheimer disease-specific pathology. These potential mechanisms and the increasing understanding of the "glymphatic system," and the recognition of the importance of sleep in poststroke recovery, as well, support a biological basis for the indirect (through the worsening of vascular disease) and direct (through specific effects on neuropathology) connections between sleep disorders and brain health. Given promising evidence for the benefits of treatment and prevention, sleep disorders and disturbances represent potential targets for early treatment that may improve brain health more broadly. In this scientific statement, we discuss the evidence supporting an association between sleep disorders and disturbances and poor brain health ranging from stroke to dementia and opportunities for prevention and early treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E61-E76
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2024 Wolters Kluwer Health. All rights reserved.


  • AHA Scientific Statements
  • brain
  • cerebrovascular disorders
  • dementia
  • sleep apnea syndromes
  • sleep disorders

PubMed: MeSH publication types

  • Journal Article
  • Review


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