The neuronal structures for the regulation of sleep and wakefulness are located in the brain. This complex network is vulnerable to numerous factors, most importantly neurodegenerative diseases and drugs. The macrostructure and microstructure of sleep change with age. These changes are more pronounced in subjects with dementia. Sleep disorders in subjects with dementia may be independent of dementia or caused by dementia. Furthermore, epidemiological studies reveal that sleep disorders per se may induce dementia by reduction of cerebral clearance of beta-amyloids. The population attributable risk (PAR) of sleep disturbances to the incidence of dementia is estimated to be about 15%; therefore, management of sleep disturbances in older adults and subjects with dementia gives the opportunity of an impact on incidence and course of dementia. Sleep history should be taken from each individual and obvious sleep disturbances, especially sleep apnea, should be managed according to current guidelines. Future studies that concern the incidence and the management of dementia must take into account sleep and sleep disturbances.