Neurobehavioral functioning in obstructive sleep apnea: differential effects of sleep quality, hypoxemia and subjective sleepiness

J Clin Exp Neuropsychol. 2004 Feb;26(1):43-54. doi: 10.1076/jcen.


This study evaluated the relationship between neuropsychological and affective functioning, subjective sleepiness and sleep-disordered breathing in 100 patients with obstructive sleep apnea (OSA). Using principal components analysis, three indices of sleep-disordered breathing were identified from polysomnography: sleep disturbance, extent of nocturnal hypoxemia, and sleep quality. Poorer sleep quality was related to slower processing speed, somatic symptomatology and tension-anxiety levels. Nocturnal hypoxemia was related to visuconstructional abilities, processing speed and mental flexibility. Patients who had high levels of subjective sleepiness had poorer performances on a complex task of executive functioning and higher levels of tension-anxiety. These results imply a differential effect of sleep-disordered breathing on domains of neuropsychological functioning. Additionally, they suggest that a patient's subjective level of sleepiness is a good predictor of certain aspects of neurobehavioral functioning.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Affect / physiology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypoxia / etiology*
  • Male
  • Memory, Short-Term / physiology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Neuropsychological Tests / statistics & numerical data
  • Polysomnography / methods
  • Principal Component Analysis / methods
  • Problem Solving
  • Psychomotor Performance
  • Reaction Time / physiology*
  • Sleep / physiology*
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / complications
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / physiopathology*
  • Sleep Stages
  • Verbal Learning / physiology
  • Visual Perception