Lower Sleep Duration Is Associated With Reduced Autobiographical Memory Specificity

Tom J. Barry, Keisuke Takano, Yannick Boddez, Filip Raes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

9 Citations (SciVal)


Objective/Background: Sleep can have an important influence on memory. However, it is unclear whether there is any relation between sleep quality and the specificity with which autobiographical memories are retrieved, a key factor associated with vulnerability for, and the presence of, depression and other psychiatric diagnoses. The present study provides the first investigation of the association between sleep quality and autobiographical memory specificity. Participants and Method: Fifty-four unselected community participants completed the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT) to assess memory specificity, while subjective and objective measures of total sleep time and sleep onset latency were provided through a daily diary and an actigraphy wristwatch worn for a week. Participants also completed questionnaires that measure known correlates of AMT specificity: the Ruminative Response Scale (RRS) and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II). Results: Shorter sleep duration, measured using actigraphy, was associated with reduced autobiographical memory specificity. There was no evidence of an association between total sleep time recorded by self-report diaries, or of sleep onset latency recorded using actigraphy or diaries and memory specificity. The relation between actigraphy-assessed total sleep time and memory specificity was independent of the effects of rumination or depressive symptoms on these variables. Conclusions: Shorter sleep duration is associated with reduced memory specificity. Future research examining memory specificity and its association with psychopathology should consider the role of sleep quality around the time of memory recall in specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)586-594
Number of pages9
JournalBehavioral Sleep Medicine
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 31 Dec 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
F.R. and Y.B. are supported by the KU Leuven Research Council grant PF/10/005. Y.B. is also supported by a grant of the Belgian Science Policy Office (P7/33; awarded to Axel Cleeremans).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (miscellaneous)
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Psychology (miscellaneous)
  • Clinical Neurology


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