Author ORCID Identifier

https://orcid.org/0000-0002-5246-6297

Defense Date

2020

Document Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Science

Department

Psychology

First Advisor

Dr. Joseph M. Dzierzewski

Second Advisor

Dr. Bruce Rybarczyk

Third Advisor

Dr. Thomas Campbell

Abstract

While some changes in sleep and cognition are considered part of normal aging, older adults often experience poor sleep quality and cognitive decline that goes beyond the scope of normal aging. Attention is a cognitive domain that may be particularly sensitive to alterations in sleep quality. One explanation for this relationship is that poor sleep quality impacts an individual’s ability to filter or suppress stimuli. Furthermore, poor sleep has been associated with increased depressive symptoms in older adults, and depression in late life has been found to adversely affect the outcome of myriad comorbid health problems. Exploring the unique presentation of mood problems in late life and their association with other aspects of health is necessary to understand daily functioning in older adults.

The main objectives of the present study were to 1) characterize the amount of day-to-day inconsistency in sleep and daily functioning in older male veterans, 2) explore whether an individual’s average sleep or sleep inconsistency in objective and subjective measures predicts neurocognitive functioning in older male veterans, and 3) examine whether daily/nightly sleep predicts daily mood and/or cognitive functioning in older male veterans.

Thirty-eight older male veterans without a diagnosis of neurocognitive disorder completed a sleep diary twice daily and had sleep assessed via actigraphy for one week (seven days). The sleep diary included questions about sleep habits as well as 0–10 rating scales about aspects of daily functioning including cognition (assessed as attention) and mood.

Sleep, cognition, and mood were all found to be highly variable constructs in late life. While sleep on average and sleep inconsistency did not predict neurocognitive functioning of older male veterans, greater naptime on average and days when an individual naps more than is typical for them were associated with lower attention ratings. Greater time spent awake at night on average was associated with poorer mood on average. Possible methodological and theoretical explanations of the findings are discussed.

Rights

© The Author

Is Part Of

VCU University Archives

Is Part Of

VCU Theses and Dissertations

Date of Submission

5-4-2020

Available for download on Friday, March 17, 2220

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