The aim of the present study was to determine the pattern of sleep disturbances and the effects on sleep of aniracetam, a cognitive enhancer, in stroke-prone spontaneously hypertensive rats (SHRSP). Compared with normotensive control rats, SHRSP exhibited an impaired sleep pattern characterized by suppressed diurnal rapid eye movement (REM) sleep and excessive nocturnal non-REM sleep. At a dose of 30 mg/kg per day p.o., aniracetam increased REM sleep in the light period after administration for 5 consecutive days. Consequently, suppressed REM sleep in SHRSP was restored by repeated treatment with aniracetam. Aniracetam could be useful in improving REM sleep impairment associated with vascular dementia.