Growing evidence suggests that impairment in rest-activity rhythms may be a risk factor for cognitive decline and impairment in the aging population. However, previous studies included only a limited set of rest-activity metrics and produced mixed findings. We studied a comprehensive set of parametric and nonparametric characteristics of rest-activity rhythms in relation to mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and probable dementia in a cohort of older women.
The prospective analysis included 763 women enrolled in two ancillary studies of the Women’s Health Initiative (WHI): the WHI Memory Study-Epidemiology of Cognitive Health Outcomes and Objective Physical Activity and Cardiovascular Health studies. The association between accelerometry-based rest-activity parameters and centrally adjudicated MCI and probable dementia were determined using Cox regression models adjusted for sociodemographic characteristics, lifestyle factors, and comorbidities.
Overall, the results support a prospective association between weakened rest-activity rhythms (e.g., reduced amplitude and overall rhythmicity) and adverse cognitive outcomes. Specifically, reduced overall rhythmicity (pseudo F statistic), lower amplitude and activity level (amplitude/relative amplitude, mesor, and activity level during active periods of the day [M10]), and later activity timing (acrophase and midpoint of M10) were associated with a higher risk for MCI and probable dementia. Women with lower amplitude and mesor also exhibited faster cognitive decline over follow-up.
Weakened rest-activity rhythms may be predictive markers for cognitive decline, MCI, and dementia among older women.