Sleep Disturbance and Cognitive Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review


Purpose of Review

The present review summarizes recent research on the association between sleep disturbance and cognitive dysfunction in MS. Assessment methodology, domain-specific associations between sleep disturbance and cognitive dysfunction, and implications for future research and treatment are discussed.

Recent Findings

All 12 studies included in this review found significant associations between sleep disturbance and cognitive dysfunction; however, results varied considerably depending on the assessment method used and the cognitive domain assessed. Self-reported sleep disturbance generally predicted self-report but not objective measures of cognitive dysfunction. Objective sleep measures (e.g., polysomnography, actigraphy) generally predicted objective impairments in processing speed and attention; however, objective sleep disturbance was more variable in predicting performance in other cognitive domains (e.g., memory, executive function).


Sleep disturbance may help predict future cognitive decline in MS. Results highlight the need to integrate sleep assessment into routine MS care. Interventions aimed treating sleep disturbance may offer promise for improving cognitive dysfunction in MS.

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Papers of particular interest, published recently, have been highlighted as: • Of importance •• Of major importance

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Correspondence to Abbey J. Hughes.

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Katherine M. Dunn and Trisha Chaffee declare no conflict of interest.

Abbey J. Hughes reports grants from the National Institutes of Health.

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This article is part of the Topical Collection on Sleep

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Hughes, A.J., Dunn, K.M. & Chaffee, T. Sleep Disturbance and Cognitive Dysfunction in Multiple Sclerosis: a Systematic Review. Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep 18, 2 (2018).

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  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Sleep
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Sleep disorders
  • Cognitive dysfunction
  • Cognitive impairment