Goal 2: Reduce Human Disease


There is developing evidence that sleep disorders, in particular obstructive sleep apnea and inadequate sleep, can influence the course of other chronic diseases. Observational studies show that CPAP treatment of patients with pre-diabetes who have OSA reduces the incidence of future diabetes. Moreover, animal and human data indicate that insufficient sleep and sleep apnea can affect the rate of progression of neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s. We now need robust studies to address the question whether addressing these sleep disorders can be used as a preventative strategy to delay the onset of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease.

Is this idea a Compelling Question (CQ) or Critical Challenge (CC)? Compelling Question (CQ)

Details on the impact of addressing this CQ or CC

This question will have considerable impact. Sleep apnea is an independent risk factor for insulin resistance. Moreover, observational studies show that treatment of OSA reduces the rate of future diabetes compared to that which occurs in untreated OSA. Therefore, identifying OSA and treating this could have a profound impact on reducing the rate of diabetes, i.e., a preventative strategy.

Both sleep loss and obstructive sleep apnea have also been shown to be risk factors for subsequent development of Alzheimer’s disease. This has been shown in mouse models and in epidemiological studies to address whether insufficient sleep and sleep apnea are independent risk factors for development of Alzheimer’s disease, in particular accelerating their onset. Determining whether this is so and whether interventions to treat these sleep disorders delay onset of diabetes and Alzheimer’s disease would have profound public health significance.

Feasibility and challenges of addressing this CQ or CC

These disorders are extremely common so that recruitment of subjects is not challenging. Moreover, new technology reduces protocol burden to assess individuals. All studies can be done in the patients’ home. There are existing cohort studies focused on diabetes and the Alzheimer’s Center program that could be used for these studies. Thus, the studies are extremely feasible in the near term.

Name of idea submitter and other team members who worked on this idea Sleep Research Society


156 net votes
211 up votes
55 down votes
Idea No. 665