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Effects of Sleep Health on Cognitive Function in HIV+ and HIV– Adults

  • Zanjbeel Mahmood (a1), Andrea Hammond (a1), Rodolfo A. Nunez (a1) (a2), Michael R. Irwin (a1) and April D. Thames (a1)...


Objectives: People living with HIV (PLWH) are more likely to report sleep difficulties and cognitive deficits. While cognitive impairment associated with sleep problems have been found in healthy and medical populations, less is known about the effects of poor sleep health (SH) on cognition among PLWH. This study examined differences in cognitive performance among participants classified based upon their HIV status and reported SH. Methods: One hundred sixteen (N=116) adults recruited from the Greater Los Angeles community were administered a comprehensive cognitive test battery and completed a questionnaire about SH. Participants were classified into the following HIV/SH groups: [HIV+/good sleep health (SH+; n=34); HIV−/SH+ (n=32); HIV−/poor sleep health (SH−; n=18) and HIV+/SH− (n=32)]. Results: For both HIV+ and HIV− individuals, poor SH was associated with lower cognitive performance, with the domains of learning and memory driving the overall relationship. The HIV+/SH− group had poorer scores in domains of learning and memory compared to the SH+ groups. Additionally, the HIV−/SH− group demonstrated poorer learning compared to the HIV−/SH+ group. Conclusions: Our findings suggest that sleep problems within medical populations are relevant to cognitive functioning, highlighting the clinical and scientific importance of monitoring sleep health and cognition to help identify individuals at greatest risk of poor health outcomes. Longitudinal investigations using both objective and subjective measures of sleep are needed to determine the robustness of the current findings and the enduring effects of poor SH in the context of chronic disease. (JINS, 2018, 24, 1038–1046)


Corresponding author

Correspondence and reprint requests to: April D. Thames, Department of Psychology, University of Southern California, 3620 S. McClintock Avenue SGM 520, Los Angeles, CA 90087. E-mail:


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