The correlation of sleep, cognition, and age in dogs.

Sleep is important for maintaining a balanced brain, especially in older individuals. However, this doesn't just apply to humans. A new study demonstrates how sleep in aging dogs can affect their cognition.
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Sleep is important for keeping the brain balanced, especially in older people, because it helps clear amyloid beta (a substance linked to Alzheimer's disease) during sleep. Certain brain activity patterns during sleep and wakefulness are considered signs of dementia. People who have dogs with a condition similar to Alzheimer's disease in dogs say their dogs have trouble sleeping. This study aimed to measure changes in sleep patterns and brain activity in older dogs and see how they relate to cognitive abilities.

What the researchers did:

Polysomnographic recordings were done on 28 older dogs during a 2-hour nap in the afternoon. We calculated the amount of time they spent awake, drowsy, in non-REM sleep, and in REM sleep, as well as how quickly they entered these sleep states. We also estimated the power, coherence, and complexity of brain oscillations. We evaluated cognitive performance using the Canine Dementia Scale Questionnaire and a series of cognitive tests. We analyzed the relationships between age, cognitive performance, the structure of the sleep-wake cycle, and electroencephalographic features.


Dogs with higher dementia scores and poorer performance in a problem-solving task spent less time in non-rapid eye movement (NREM) and rapid eye movement (REM) sleep. Also, advanced analysis of brain wave patterns showed differences in dogs based on age or cognitive performance, with some dogs showing less deep sleep if they were more affected.

Read the full study:

© Alejandra Mondino, Magaly Catanzariti, Diego Martin Mateos, Miichael Khan, Claire Ludwig, Anna Kis, Margaret E. Gruen, and Natasha J. Olby