The Effects of Sleep and Depression on Cognitive Functioning in Young Adults
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Sleep disturbance and depression have both been shown to negatively affect cognitive functioning in adults. Evidence also exists to suggest that they are tightly linked, and both are common in college students. Despite the degree to which sleep and depression are intertwined, however, there is little research exploring how they combine to impact cognitive functioning. One group of researchers has found that subclinical depression symptoms moderate the effect of subjective sleep disturbance on neuropsychological test performance in older adults (Sutter, Zollig, Allemand, & Martin, 2012). The other few studies that do exist in this area also focus on older adults, but as noted above, sleep disturbance and depression are quite common in college students. Therefore, the present study uses a sample of undergraduate students to explore whether there are unique and interactive effects of sleep disturbance and depression on cognitive functioning in young adults. Results suggest that the interaction of sleep and depression is not associated with reduced neuropsychological test performance in young adults. Discussion focuses on why this effect may not exist in younger adults and explores possible flaws in our theory as well as limitations to our study’s design which could have led to null findings.