Integrative Review of the Relationship Between Sleep Disturbances and Episodic Memory in Older Adults

An Yun Yeh, Susan J. Pressler, Bruno J. Giordani, Bunny J. Pozehl, Ann M. Berger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Scopus citations


Impaired episodic memory in older adults has been linked to many factors. One of these factors is sleep disturbances, which are reported by more than 50% of older adults. The relationship between episodic memory and sleep disturbances remains unclear, however, because of the multiple types of measures of sleep and episodic memory used in previous studies. The purpose of this integrative literature review was to integrate and compare findings on this relationship in adults aged 65 years. An electronic search was conducted in PubMed, Cumulative Index to Nursing and Allied Health Literature, PsychINFO, and Medline for material published from the inception of the databases to December 2016. The literature search produced 13 data-based, peer-reviewed, and primary research articles that met eligibility criteria. The synthesized results from these articles provide evidence that older adults with 6–8 hr of self-reported total sleep time had better episodic memory than older adults with ≤5 hr or ≥9 hr of total sleep time. Shorter length and lower percentage of slow-wave sleep were associated with reduced episodic memory in older adults, but the results were controversial. Selection of different measurements and inconsistent variables across studies increased the difficulty of synthesizing and comparing the results. The diversity of covariates controlled in the included articles raise questions regarding which covariates should be controlled in such studies of sleep and episodic memory in older adults. The numerous study limitations were thus major barriers to understanding the relationship between sleep disturbances and episodic memory.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)440-451
Number of pages12
JournalBiological Research for Nursing
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jul 1 2018


  • aging
  • episodic memory
  • measurement
  • sleep
  • sleep disturbances

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Research and Theory


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