THURSDAY, Feb. 16, 2023 (HealthDay News) — Frequent sleep medication use is associated with an increased risk for dementia in White older adults, according to a study published online Jan. 31 in the Journal of Alzheimer’s Disease.

Yue Leng, Ph.D., from the University of California in San Francisco, and colleagues assessed longitudinal associations between sleep medication use and incident dementia over 15 years. The analysis included data from 3,068 community-dwelling older adults (average age, 74.1 years; 41.7 percent Black; 51.5 percent female) without dementia.

The researchers found that in adjusted analyses, participants who reported taking sleep medications (five or more per month versus one or less per month) were significantly more likely to develop dementia. However, the association was seen among White participants (hazard ratio, 1.79; 95 percent confidence interval, 1.21 to 2.66) but not Black participants (hazard ratio, 0.84; 95 percent confidence interval, 0.38 to 1.83; P = 0.048). Adjustment for nighttime sleep did not substantially alter the results. Associations persisted across cumulative frequency of sleep medication use and when accounting for a time lag of three years.

“We found that the association between sleep medication use and increased dementia risk was independent of sleep duration and disturbances, which argues against the use of hypnotics among individuals at high risk for cognitive impairment,” the authors write.

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