Predictors of cognitive complaints in patients with obstructive sleep apnea

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Patients with Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) often report cognitive complaints as an interfering daytime symptom. However, severity of cognitive complaints may differ widely, and little is known about contributing or determining factors.This study aims to explore the relation between patient characteristics and severity of cognitive complaints in a sleep center sample of OSA.

We included 63 OSA patients (AHI > 10). Cognitive complaints were assessed using the three subscales of the Cognitive Failure Questionnaire (CFQ; forgetfulness, distractibility and false triggering). For all three CFQ subscales we performed separate stepwise multiple linear regression analyses. As predictors Apnea Hypopnea Index (AHI) and subjective sleepiness (Epworth Sleepiness Scale, ESS) were put in first, age, sex and educational level second, fatigue (Fatigue, Assessment Scale, FAS), anxiety and depression (Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale, HADS) third and objective cognitive functioning (neuropsychological tests for processing speed, reaction time, complex attention and cognitive flexibility) last.

The severity of the three cognitive complaints under study (forgetfulness, distractibility and false-triggering) were all related to subjective sleepiness. In addition, forgetfulness was related to reported fatigue. We did not find relationships between cognitive complaints and age, sex, educational level, AHI, anxiety, depression and objective cognitive functioning.

Sleep center OSA patients with high subjective sleepiness are more likely to report cognitive complaints. Patients with high levels of fatigue are more likely to report memory complaints. Cognitive complaints are unrelated to OSA severity and may not be a sign of objective cognitive disorders in OSA.
Original languageEnglish
Article numberP 702
Number of pages2
JournalJournal of sleep research
Issue numberS1
Publication statusPublished - 2022


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