Correlation between sleep and cognitive functions after hemispheric ischaemic stroke

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Abstract

Background

The aim of this study was to test the hypothesis of a link between sleep and cognitive functions, particularly memory and attention, after stroke.

Methods

We studied 11 consecutive patients with first-ever hemispheric ischaemic stroke within eight days after symptoms onset and nine of them at least three months after stroke. Sleep EEG was recorded with a portable system. Cognitive functions were assessed using a standardized battery of tests allowing the estimation of the most relevant domains of cognition. Five age-matched healthy subjects served as controls.

Results

The patients were aged 43 ± 12 years (18–59). In five patients stroke was right-sided and in six patients left-sided. In the acute stroke phase a correlation between attention and amounts of slow wave sleep (SWS), Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and sleep efficiency was found. In the recovery phase verbal/figural memory and attention significantly improved in most patients. Furthermore, an association between (i) verbal/figural (non-verbal) memory and amounts of SWS, REM sleep and sleep efficiency, and between (ii) attention and sleep efficiency was observed.

Conclusions

The results point to a link between sleep and cognitive functions and their recovery after hemispheric stroke. Further studies are needed to determine the specific nature of this link.

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