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Objective and subjective sleep measures are associated with neurocognition in aging adults with and without HIV.


Objective: Poor sleep quality is related to worse neurocognition in older adults and in people with HIV (PWH); however, many previous studies have relied only on self-report sleep questionnaires, which are inconsistently correlated with objective sleep measures. We examined relationships between objective and subjective sleep quality and neurocognition in persons with and without HIV, aged 50 and older. Method: Eighty-five adults (PWH n = 52, HIV-negative n = 32) completed comprehensive neuropsychological testing to assess global and domain-specific neurocognition. Objective sleep quality was assessed with wrist actigraphy (total sleep time, efficiency, sleep fragmentation) for five to 14 nights. Subjective sleep quality was assessed with the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index. Results: Objective and subjective sleep measures were unrelated (p's > 0.30). Compared to HIV-negative participants, PWH had greater sleep efficiency (80% vs. 75%, p = 0.05) and were more likely to be using prescription and/or over the counter sleep medication (p = 0.04). In the whole sample, better sleep efficiency (p < 0.01) and greater total sleep time (p = 0.05) were associated with better learning. Less sleep fragmentation was associated with better learning (p < 0.01) and recall (p = 0.04). While PWH had slightly stronger relationships between total sleep time and sleep fragmentation, it is not clear if these differences are clinically meaningful. Better subjective sleep quality was associated with better executive function (p < 0.01) and working memory (p = 0.05); this relationship was primarily driven by the HIV-negative group. Conclusions: Objective sleep quality was associated with learning and recall whereas subjective sleep quality was associated with executive function and working memory. Therefore, assessing objective and subjective sleep quality could be clinically useful, as they are both related to important domains of cognition frequently impacted in HIV-associated neurocognitive disorders as well as neurodegenerative disorders associated with aging. Future studies should evaluate if behavioral sleep interventions can improve neurocognition.

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