Reduced sleep quality impairs learning, memory formation, attention, and executive function ability. Poor sleep quality or sleep hygiene has been shown to impair academic performance of undergraduate and medical students. The purpose of this study was to examine the association between sleep quality, sleep hygiene, and cognitive performance in Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) students.
Fifty DPT students at the University of Kansas Medical Center completed the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) and the Sleep Hygiene Index (SHI). Cognitive performance was assessed using the Continuous Performance Test (CPT), which is a test of sustained attention and the Trail-Making Task to assess executive functioning. An actigraph was worn for 1 week to objectively characterize sleep outcomes. Spearman's correlations were performed to assess the association between self-report sleep quality, sleep hygiene, and outcomes on the cognitive tasks. Post hoc Mann–Whitney and Kruskal–Wallis tests were conducted to examine group differences between sleep outcomes and cognitive performance for demographic variable categories.
Twenty-three students (46%) reported poor sleep quality, and 27 participants (54%) had objectively reported poor sleep quality. There was a significant positive correlation between SHI and detectability (rs = 0.297; P = .036) and omissions (rs = .343; P = .015). There were group differences between sex and the number of pets on the CPT outcomes, and there was a significant group difference between the number of drinks/wk categories on the SHI.
Discussion and Conclusions.
About half of the participants were identified as having poor sleep quality. Poorer sleep hygiene was associated with poorer discrimination and inattention, which could potentially affect the students' academic and clinical performance and their health and well-being. Also, certain demographic variables may modulate the results.