Patients with schizophrenia have strong associations between cognitive functioning and worse and more variable sleep, according to research presented at the 2022 Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society, held from June 4 to 8, 2022, in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Investigators sought to further understand the link between cognitive dysfunction and disturbed sleep in patients with schizophrenia and determine future sleep interventions to improve functioning and disability.

A total of 36 participants (18 patients with schizophrenia and 18 nonpsychiatric comparison participants) were included and completed the Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System.

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The participants wore a Fitbit activity tracker on their wrists for 7 days to monitor their sleep and activity. Independent sample t tests were used to assess differences between patients and control individuals in the mean and variability of sleep measures, including total sleep time (TST), wake after sleep onset (WASO), and efficiency, as well as cognitive function.

The patients with schizophrenia and control individuals had a similar age (mean, 53±10 years), sex (50% female), and race (a majority were White). The 2 groups also had comparable mean sleep and variability of sleep measures.

The patients with schizophrenia had a significantly poorer performance in all cognitive domains (P <.05).

Among the patients with schizophrenia, more variable WASO and sleep efficiency correlated significantly with worse performance in visual-motor sequencing and motor speed tasks (rs=-0.56 to -0.66). In addition, trending relationships were observed regarding better executive function composite scores, with longer mean TST (rs=0.43) and greater mean sleep efficiency (rs=0.30). Data collection is ongoing.

Poor sleep is a prominent problem in patients with schizophrenia and has been associated with deficits in various cognitive domains,” stated the researchers.

“Preliminary results found strong associations between worse and more variable sleep and cognitive performance that may strengthen as sample size increases.”


Patapoff M, Lee E. Greater variability of sleep disturbance is associated with executive functioning among people with schizophrenia. SLEEP 2022; June 4-8, 2022. Abstract 690.

This article originally appeared on Psychiatry Advisor