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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Want advice on getting a good night’s sleep? UW expert set to talk in Spokane

Jeffrey Iliff, sleep researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine  (Courtesy University of Washington)

A researcher involved in pivotal sleep studies is scheduled to speak Tuesday night at Gonzaga University about why having enough nightly slumber is key to brain wellness.

Jeffrey Iliff, a sleep researcher at the University of Washington School of Medicine, plans to share new findings and advice on how to ensure the right type of sleep that’s needed for the brain to function at its best.

He’ll be joined later for audience questions by Dr. Don Howard, a Providence sleep medicine specialist and pulmonary doctor in Spokane.

The 6 p.m. Next Generation Medicine lecture is hosted by the UW School of Medicine and GU Health Partnership. Scheduled at the Myrtle Woldson Performing Arts Center, it’s free to attend or watch live-streamed, but registration is required at

Iliff led a study with findings released in late 2023 that showed consistent sleep patterns of seven hours or more a night over the years – even at midlife – can deter cognitive decline later in life.

The study followed 826 older adults who had no cognitive decline signs when they enrolled nearly two decades ago. They reported on how long they slept the previous seven days during the project. The adults took a series of cognitive function assessments over time.

Older adults who slept with uneven sleep patterns that included less than seven hours at night during a 20-year span were more likely to develop cognitive decline, the study said, compared with those who regularly slept at least seven hours.

It found that people whose sleep changed the most year-to-year had more than a threefold increased risk of cognitive impairment.

Iliff also is involved in analysis of data from the Seattle Longitudinal Study, researching sleep and dementia risk, which followed the cognitive functioning of 6,000 people from young adulthood to old age in waves of enrollment. A statistical model found that the variability, or change in sleep duration across the time measurements, showed a significant tie-in with cognitive impairment.

“Making sure that good sleep is a regular part of your life – not just on weekends and not just on vacations – is important,” Iliff said.