Sleep disturbance and deficits of sustained attention following stroke

Samuel C. Pearce, Renerus J. Stolwyk, Peter W. New, Clare Anderson

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Objective: To simultaneously investigate the prevalence of and impact that the poststroke complications of daytime sleepiness, poor sleep quality, depression, and fatigue may be having upon deficits of sustained attention, as assessed using the Psychomotor Vigilance Task (PVT). Method: Twenty-two patients with stroke (mean age: 68.23 ± 12.17 years) and 20 healthy control participants (mean age: 68.1 ± 9.5 years) completed subjective measures of daytime sleepiness, sleep quality, fatigue, and depression and an objective measure of sustained attention as assessed using the PVT. Results: Patients with stroke compared to controls showed heightened levels of fatigue (p =.001, η2 =.29) and depression (p =.002, η2 =.23), plus greater deficits of sustained attention as reflected by poorer performance across all PVT outcome measures including: slower mean reaction times (p =.002, η2 =.22); increased number of lapses (p =.002, η2 =.24); and greater variability in reaction time (RT) responses (p =.016, η2 =.15). Reaction time distribution analysis suggested that daytime sleepiness and sleep quality had little influence across PVT performance; however, depressive symptomology was associated with longer RT responses, indicative of inattention, and fatigue impacted upon the entire distribution of PVT responses. Conclusions: PVT performance illustrated significant deficits across the domain of sustained attention for patients with stroke in comparison to healthy controls, in terms of inattention as well as slower sensory-motor speed. The common poststroke complications of depressive symptomology and fatigue appear to be associated with these deficits in sustained attention, warranting further investigation.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Clinical and Experimental Neuropsychology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2016


  • attention
  • depression
  • fatigue
  • sleep
  • stroke

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