Sleep problems and subjective cognitive complaints among middle-aged and older adults in 45 low- and middle-income countries

Lee Smith, Hans Oh, Louis Jacob, Guillermo F López-Sánchez, Nicola Veronese, Pinar Soysal, Jae Il Shin, Felipe Schuch, Mark A Tully, Laurie Butler, Yvonne Barnett, Ai Koyanagi

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Currently, a small body of evidence suggests that sleep problems are positively associated with subjective cognitive complaints (SCC). However, no studies on this topic exist from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs). Thus, we investigated the association between sleep problems and SCC in a large sample of middle-age and older adults from 45 LMICs. Cross-sectional, predominantly nationally representative, community-based data were analyzed from the World Health Survey. Sleep problems (such as difficulties falling asleep, waking up frequently during the night or waking up too early in the morning) in the last 30 days were self-reported. Two questions on subjective memory and learning complaints in the past 30 days were used to create a SCC scale ranging from 0 (No SCC) to 100 (worse SCC). Multivariable linear regression was conducted to explore the association between sleep problems (exposure) and SCC (outcome). Data on 60,228 adults aged ≥ 50 years were analyzed [mean (SD) age 61.4 (9.9) years; 53.9% females]. After adjustment for potential confounders, compared to those without sleep problems, the mean SCC score for the multivariable model was 13.32 (95% CI 12.01, 14.63), 19.46 (95% CI 17.95, 20.98), 24.17 (95% CI 22.02, 26.33), and 31.39 (95% CI 28.13, 34.65) points higher for mild, moderate, severe, and extreme sleep problems, respectively. Similar results were found for analyses stratified by age and country-income level. Sleep problems were positively associated in a dose-response manner with SCC among middle-aged and older adults in multiple LMICs. Addressing sleep problems may aid in the prevention of SCC and ultimately dementia, pending future longitudinal research. [Abstract copyright: © 2022. The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.]
Original languageEnglish
JournalAging Clinical and Experimental Research
Early online date5 Jan 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank CERN for the very successful operation of the LHC, as well as the support staff from our institutions without whom ATLAS could not be operated efficiently. We acknowledge the support of ANPCyT, Argentina; YerPhI, Armenia; ARC, Australia; BMWFW and FWF, Austria; ANAS, Azerbaijan; SSTC, Belarus; CNPq and FAPESP, Brazil; NSERC, NRC and CFI, Canada; CERN; CONICYT, Chile; CAS, MOST and NSFC, China; COLCIENCIAS, Colombia; MSMTCR, MPOCR and VSC CR, Czech Republic; DNRF, DNSRC and Lundbeck Foundation, Denmark; IN2P3-CNRS, CEADSM/ IRFU, France; GNSF, Georgia; BMBF, HGF, and MPG, Germany; GSRT, Greece; RGC, Hong Kong SAR, China; ISF, I-CORE and Benoziyo Center, Israel; INFN, Italy; MEXT and JSPS, Japan; CNRST, Morocco; FOM and NWO, Netherlands; RCN, Norway; MNiSW and NCN, Poland; FCT, Portugal; MNE/IFA, Romania; MES of Russia and NRC KI, Russian Federation; JINR; MESTD, Serbia; MSSR, Slovakia; ARRS and MIZ?, Slovenia; DST/NRF, South Africa; MINECO, Spain; SRC and Wallenberg Foundation, Sweden; SERI, SNSF and Cantons of Bern and Geneva, Switzerland; MOST, Taiwan; TAEK, Turkey; STFC, United Kingdom; DOE and NSF, United States of America. In addition, individual groups and members have received support from BCKDF, the Canada Council, CANARIE, CRC, Compute Canada, FQRNT, and the Ontario Innovation Trust, Canada; EPLANET, ERC, FP7, Horizon 2020 and Marie Sk?odowska-Curie Actions, European Union; Investissements d?Avenir Labex and Idex, ANR, Region Auvergne and Fondation Partager le Savoir, France; DFG and AvH Foundation, Germany; Herakleitos, Thales and Aristeia programmes co-financed by EU-ESF and the Greek NSRF; BSF, GIF and Minerva, Israel; BRF, Norway; the Royal Society and Leverhulme Trust, United Kingdom. The crucial computing support from all WLCG partners is acknowledged gratefully, in particular from CERN and theATLAS Tier- 1 facilities at TRIUMF (Canada), NDGF (Denmark, Norway, Sweden), CC-IN2P3 (France), KIT/GridKA (Germany), INFN-CNAF (Italy), NL-T1 (Netherlands), PIC (Spain), ASGC (Taiwan), RAL (UK) and BNL (USA) and in the Tier-2 facilities worldwide.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022, The Author(s), under exclusive licence to Springer Nature Switzerland AG.


  • Low- and middle-income countries
  • Older adults
  • Sleep problems
  • Subjective cognitive complaints


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