Sleep Disturbance and Emotion Regulation Brain Dysfunction as Mechanisms of Neuropsychiatric Symptoms in Alzheimer's Dementia

  • End date
    Aug 30, 2024
  • participants needed
  • sponsor
    Stanford University
Updated on 25 January 2022
cognitive impairment
sleep disturbances
behavioral therapy
alzheimer's disease
mild cognitive impairment
cognitive therapy
neuropsychiatric symptoms
sleep problem


Recent findings suggest that sleep disruption may contribute to the generation and maintenance of neuropsychiatric symptoms including anxiety, depression, agitation, irritation, and apathy while treating sleep disruption reduces these symptoms. Impairments in the neural systems that support emotion regulation may represent one causal mechanism mediating the relationship between sleep and emotional distress. However, this model has not yet been formally tested within a sample of individuals with or at risk for developing Alzheimer's Disease (AD)

This proposal aims to test a mechanistic model in which sleep disturbance contributes to neuropsychiatric symptoms through impairments in fronto-limbic emotion regulation function in a sample of individuals at risk for developing, or at an early stage of AD.

This study seeks to delineate the causal association between sleep disruption, fronto-limbic emotion regulation brain function, and neuropsychiatric symptoms. These aims will be achieved through a mechanistic, randomized 2-arm controlled trial design. 150 adults experiencing sleep disturbances and who also have cognitive impairment with the presence of at least mild neuropsychiatric symptoms will be randomized to receive either a sleep manipulation (Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia CBT-I; n=75) or an active control (n=75). CBT-I improves sleep patterns through a combination of sleep restriction, stimulus control, mindfulness training, cognitive therapy targeting dysfunctional beliefs about sleep, and sleep hygiene education. Neuropsychiatric symptoms, fronto-limbic functioning, and sleep disruption will be assessed at baseline and at the end of the sleep manipulation through functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI), clinical interviews, PSG recordings, and self-report questionnaires. Neuropsychiatric symptoms (anxiety and depression) and sleep disturbance (actigraphy, Insomnia Severity Index, and sleep diaries) will be assayed at baseline and each week throughout the sleep manipulation to assess week-to-week changes following an increasing number of CBT-I sessions. Wristwatch actigraphy will be acquired from baseline to the end of the sleep manipulation at week 11. Neuropsychiatric symptoms and sleep will be assessed again at six months post-manipulation.

Condition Alzheimer Disease, Mild Cognitive Impairment, Neuropsychiatric Symptoms, Sleep Disturbance
Treatment Cognitive Behavioral Therapy for Insomnia (CBT-I), Desensitization Therapy for insomnia (DT-I)
Clinical Study IdentifierNCT04100057
SponsorStanford University
Last Modified on25 January 2022


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