Does sleep and circadian rhythm disruption influence brain health?


  • Dr David Breen

    University of Edinburgh

Project summary

Sleep-wake disturbances are a common feature of Alzheimer’s (AD) and Parkinson’s disease (PD), and attention has recently turned to the role of sleep and circadian factors in the development of these conditions.

I will analyse data from four existing research studies that have collected information on sleep and 24-hour rhythms from healthy adults using questionnaires and wrist-worn accelerometers. Accelerometers are a convenient and non-invasive way to assess sleep in large numbers of people. I will assess the influence of sleep and circadian parameters on a range of brain health measures, such as cognitive performance, brain volume on MRI, later-life AD and PD diagnosis, and post-mortem brain abnormalities.

My findings may identify a new, potentially treatable, risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases. There is a need for further studies to understand the underlying mechanisms and to develop treatments that may delay the onset of these diseases.