It was hypothesized that adult cystic fibrosis (CF) patients with severe lung disease have impaired daytime function related to nocturnal hypoxaemia and sleep disruption. Nineteen CF patients (forced expiratory volume in one second 28+/-7% predicted) and 10 healthy subjects completed sleep diaries, overnight polysomnography (PSG), and assessment of daytime sleepiness and neurocognitive function. CF patients tended to report more awakenings (0.7+/-0.5 versus 0.3+/-0.2 x h(-1), p=0.08), and PSG revealed reduced sleep efficiency (71+/-25 versus 93+/-4%, p=0.004) and a higher frequency of awakenings (4.2+/-2.7 versus 2.4+/-1.4 x h(-1), p=0.06). Mean arterial oxygen saturation during sleep was lower in CF patients (84.4+/-6.8 versus 94.3+/-1.5%, p<0.0001) and was associated with reduced sleep efficiency (regression coefficient (r)=0.57, p=0.014). CF patients had short sleep latency on the multiple sleep latency test (6.7+/-3 min). The CF group reported lower levels of activation and happiness and greater levels of fatigue (p<0.01), which correlated with indices of sleep loss, such as sleep efficiency (r=0.47, p=10.05). Objective neurocognitive performance was also impaired in CF patients, reflected by lower throughput for simple addition/subtraction, serial reaction and colour-word conflict. The authors concluded that adult cystic fibrosis patients with severe lung disease have impaired neurocognitive function and daytime sleepiness, which is partly related to chronic sleep loss and nocturnal hypoxaemia.