BACKGROUND Tight relationships between sleep quality, cognition, and amyloid-β (Aβ) accumulation, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) neuropathology, have been shown. Sleep arousals become more prevalent with aging and are considered to reflect poorer sleep quality. However, heterogeneity in arousals has been suggested while their associations with Aβ and cognition are not established.METHODS We recorded undisturbed night-time sleep with EEG in 101 healthy individuals aged 50–70 years, devoid of cognitive and sleep disorders. We classified spontaneous arousals according to their association with muscular tone increase (M+/M–) and sleep stage transition (T+/T–). We assessed cortical Aβ burden over earliest affected regions via PET imaging and assessed cognition via neuropsychological testing.RESULTS Arousal types differed in their oscillatory composition in θ (4–8 Hz) and β (16–30 Hz) EEG bands. Furthermore, T+M– arousals, interrupting sleep continuity, were positively linked to Aβ burden (P = 0.0053, R²β* = 0.08). By contrast, more prevalent T–M+ arousals, upholding sleep continuity, were associated with lower Aβ burden (P = 0.0003, R²β* = 0.13), and better cognition, particularly over the attentional domain (P < 0.05, R²β* ≥ 0.04).CONCLUSION Contrasting with what is commonly accepted, we provide empirical evidence that arousals are diverse and differently associated with early AD-related neuropathology and cognition. This suggests that sleep arousals, and their coalescence with other brain oscillations during sleep, may actively contribute to the beneficial functions of sleep and constitute markers of favorable brain and cognitive health trajectories.TRIAL REGISTRATION EudraCT 2016-001436-35.FUNDING FRS-FNRS Belgium (FRSM 3.4516.11), Actions de Recherche Concertées Fédération Wallonie-Bruxelles (SLEEPDEM 17/27-09), ULiège, and European Regional Development Fund (Radiomed Project).


Daphne O. Chylinski, Maxime Van Egroo, Justinas Narbutas, Martin Grignard, Ekaterina Koshmanova, Christian Berthomier, Pierre Berthomier, Marie Brandewinder, Eric Salmon, Mohamed Ali Bahri, Christine Bastin, Fabienne Collette, Christophe Phillips, Pierre Maquet, Vincenzo Muto, Gilles Vandewalle


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