, Volume 16, Issue 3, pp 554–568 | Cite as

Sleep as a Therapeutic Target in the Aging Brain

  • Thierno M. Bah
  • James Goodman
  • Jeffrey J. IliffEmail author


Sleep is a behavioral phenomenon conserved among mammals and some invertebrates, yet the biological functions of sleep are still being elucidated. In humans, sleep time becomes shorter, more fragmented, and of poorer quality with advancing age. Epidemiologically, the development of age-related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease is associated with pronounced sleep disruption, whereas emerging mechanistic studies suggest that sleep disruption may be causally linked to neurodegenerative pathology, suggesting that sleep may represent a key therapeutic target in the prevention of these conditions. In this review, we discuss the physiology of sleep, the pathophysiology of neurodegenerative disease, and the current literature supporting the relationship between sleep, aging, and neurodegenerative disease.

Key Words

Sleep aging cognitive decline dementia Alzheimer’s disease treatment. 



This work was supported by grant from the National Institutes of Health to Jeffrey J. Iliff (AG054456, NS089709) and to James Goodman (AG060681).

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Disclosure forms provided by the authors are available with the online version of this article.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Disclosure Statement

This study was not industry-supported and the authors declare that they have no financial conflicts of interest.

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Copyright information

© The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc. 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Thierno M. Bah
    • 1
  • James Goodman
    • 1
  • Jeffrey J. Iliff
    • 1
    • 2
    • 3
    • 4
    • 5
    Email author
  1. 1.Department of Anesthesiology and Perioperative MedicineOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  2. 2.Knight Cardiovascular InstituteOregon Health & Science UniversityPortlandUSA
  3. 3.Veterans Integrated Service Network 20 Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical CenterPuget Sound Health Care SystemSeattleUSA
  4. 4.Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral SciencesUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA
  5. 5.Department of NeurologyUniversity of Washington School of MedicineSeattleUSA

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