The Association between Subjective Memory Complaints and Sleep within Older African American Adults

Alyssa A. Gamaldo, Regina S. Wright, Adrienne T. Aiken-Morgan, Jason C. Allaire, Roland J. Thorpe, Keith E. Whitfield

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Scopus citations


Objective The purpose of the current study is to examine the association between subjective memory complaints and sleep (quantity and quality) in African American older adults. Method Participants from the Baltimore Study of Black Aging (BSBA; n = 351; mean age = 71.99) completed a self-report sleep scale, subjective memory complaint scale, global cognitive status measure, and demographic questionnaire. Results Worse overall sleep quality was significantly associated with subjective reports of difficulty recalling the placement of objects, recalling specific facts from reading materials, and worse memory currently compared to the past. Specific sleep parameters (e.g., longer sleep latency and shorter sleep duration) were associated with negative appraisals of participants' ability to do specific tasks involving memory (e.g., difficulty recalling placement of objects). Participants classified as poor sleepers (Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index [PSQI] total score > 5) were more likely to report worse memory now compared to the past than participants classified as good sleepers (PSQI total score ≤ 5). Conclusions Evaluation of sleep may be warranted when older adults, particularly African Americans, communicate concerns regarding their memory. Insufficient sleep may be a useful marker of acute daytime dysfunction and, perhaps, cognitive decline. Given memory problems are the hallmark of dementia, our findings support further evaluation of whether poor sleep can aid in the diagnosis of cognitive impairment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)202-211
Number of pages10
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 10 2019

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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