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Insomnia is a common sleep disorder among older adults, and a risk factor for poor physical and mental health. However, the relationship between insomnia and cognitive health is not well understood. Here, we review observational studies that have investigated whether insomnia is associated with deficits in objective cognitive performance and an increased risk of dementia, magnetic resonance imaging studies that have assessed grey matter volumes and white matter microstructure, and interventional studies that have explored whether the treatment of insomnia can improve cognitive outcomes. There are inconsistent findings regarding impaired performance in objective cognitive tests and reduced grey matter volumes, and limited, emerging, evidence that suggests that insomnia is associated with an increased risk of dementia and reduced white matter integrity. Although the interventional literature is still in its infancy, there is some indication that treatment may have an impact on vigilance. Well-powered studies examining sources of heterogeneity are warranted.

Original publication




Journal article


Neurosci Bull

Publication Date



Cognition, Dementia, Insomnia, Sleep