Skip to main content
Subscription RequiredScientific Investigations

The association between obstructive sleep apnea risk and cognitive disorders: a population-based study

Published Online:


Study Objectives:

To examine the association between obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) risk and cognitive disorders among US adults.


Data from the 2016 wave of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) were utilized. Probable OSA cases were identified with survey items that resembled critical elements of a clinically validated OSA screen (STOP-Bang questionnaire). Weighted prevalences of cognitive impairment not dementia (CIND) and dementia among individuals with and without probable OSA were assessed. Cross-sectional analyses of associations between OSA risk and cognitive outcomes, along with effect modification by race and ethnicity, were estimated using imputed data.


Of the 20,910 HRS participants, 60% had probable OSA. CIND and dementia were more common among adults with probable OSA as compared with those without (12.7% vs 8.0% for CIND; 3.2% vs 2.0% for dementia). Probable OSA was associated with CIND (odds ratio [OR] = 1.22, 95% confidence interval [CI] = 1.08–1.37) and dementia (OR = 1.27, 95% CI = 1.04–1.54). Race/ethnicity significantly modified the association between probable OSA and CIND, with a higher risk for CIND in Whites (OR = 1.35, 95% CI = 1.17–1.57) as compared with non-Whites (OR = 0.98, 95% CI = 0.81–1.19).


CIND and dementia are more common among older adults who are at high risk for OSA, as compared with low-risk individuals. These data highlight the importance of consideration of OSA risk in large-scale studies of OSA and cognitive disorders.


Shieu MM, Dunietz GL, Paulson HL, Chervin RD, Braley TJ. The association between obstructive sleep apnea risk and cognitive disorders: a population-based study. J Clin Sleep Med. 2022;18(4):1177–1185.

Access content

  • Login Options:

  • Not a subscriber?

    Join the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and receive a subscription to JCSM with your membership

    Subscribe to JCSM: $125/volume year for individuals or $225/volume year for institutions to access all current articles and archives published in JCSM.

    Click here to purchase this article: $25 to access this article online, including access to a PDF download of the article.*

    *Purchasing access to a JCSM article includes permission to access and print the article for personal use only. Articles cannot be reproduced or distributed in any manner without obtaining permission from the American Academy of Sleep Medicine. Permissions for articles published in JCSM may be obtained through the Copyright Clearance Center.