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Sleep disorders are frequently reported in patients with cirrhosis and hepatic encephalopathy (HE). This study assessed the effect of rifaximin on sleep architecture parameters in patients with recurrent HE.This sequential, prospective, and exploratory study involved all patients with cirrhosis and recurrent HE admitted between June 2014 and September 2015. HE was assessed according to the West-Haven Classification. Patients underwent 24-h polysomnography (PSG) and 7-day actigraphy. Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep was considered to be an indicator of good sleep quality. Patients completed questionnaires assessing the quality of sleep and sleepiness. After a 28-day course of rifaximin, the same assessment was repeated.Fifteen patients were included (nine men, mean age: 57±11 years). Child–Pugh scores ranged from B7 to C15. Before rifaximin, the mean HE score was 2.7±0.7. Data from PSG analysis indicated long total sleep time (TST): 571±288 min, and limited REM sleep: 2.5% TST (0–19). Seven-day actigraphy showed an impaired number of steps: 1690/24 h (176–6945). Questionnaires indicated that patients experienced impaired sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. After rifaximin, HE scores decreased to 1.7±0.6 (P<0.001). REM sleep increased to 8.5% TST (0–25) (P=0.003). No changes were observed for TST, number of steps, and on questionnaires.Patients with recurrent HE suffer from poor sleep quality and excessive daytime sleepiness. On 24-h PSG, rifaximin improves objective sleep architecture parameters with no changes in the subjective quality of sleep and sleepiness.