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Could sleep medications increase dementia risk?

Original Article By: Katharine Lang

Summarized By: Neurobit

A recent study conducted by researchers Yuea Leng, Katie L. Stone, and Kristine Yaffe (2023) from the University of California, San Francisco found the use of sleep medication to increase the risk of dementia, particularly in white people. The study was published in the Journal of Alzheimer's Disease and looked at several different sleep medications, including over-the-counter antihistamines and prescription drugs such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and benzodiazepines.

A random sample of 3,068 men and women aged 70-79, both Black and white, who did not have a dementia diagnosis, participated in the study. The participants were asked about their sleep medication usage at the start of the study and again in the 3rd and 5th years of the study. The researchers recorded the onset of dementia if a participant was hospitalized with dementia as a primary or secondary diagnosis, prescribed a dementia medication, or showed a significant decline in cognitive function.

During an average of 9.2 years of follow-up, 20% of the participants developed dementia. The researchers found a "robust association" between frequent use of sleep medication and dementia for white participants, but no link between occasional use of sleep medication and dementia. It is important to note that this study does not prove that sleep medication causes dementia, but it may be an indicator of other factors that contribute to increased dementia risk, such as depression. The researchers advise the use of non-pharmacological sleep interventions, like cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia, as a safer option.


Lang, K., & Guildford, A. (2023, February 6). Dementia: Frequent use of sleeping pills, antidepressants may up risk. Medical News Today. Retrieved February 7, 2023, from

Leng, Y., Stone, K. L., & Yaffe, K. (2023). Race Differences in the Association Between Sleep Medication Use and Risk of Dementia. Journal of Alzheimer's Disease, 91(3), 1133-1139.

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