A Large Online Study Examining Individual Differences in Sleep Quality and Episodic Memory Performance Across the Adult Lifespan: Interactions Between Psychosocial and Sociodemographic Factors

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Hokett, Emily
Duarte, Audrey
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The relationship between sleep quality and episodic memory performance, or memory for the details of past events, has been established in young and older adults. Although the sleep-memory relationship is similar across age groups, older adults tend to experience poorer sleep quality than young adults. Similarly, both young and older racial/ethnic minorities experience poorer sleep quality as compared to non-Hispanic Whites. Certain lifestyle factors may protect against these age and racial/ethnic group sleep disparities and moderate sleep-memory associations. Here, I recruited a 279-participant online sample of racially diverse adults (29% Black). I assessed self-reported sleep quality and associated cofactors, including physical activity, social support, race-related stress, and religiosity. I found no significant age or racial differences in sleep quality nor memory performance. However, Black participants reported greater religiosity. Moreover, Black participants demonstrated stronger associations between larger social networks and better sleep quality than White participants. Across age and racial groups, protective factors moderated the sleep-memory association such that greater endorsement of protective lifestyle factors was linked to reduced sensitivity to sleep for better memory retrieval. Conversely, low social support was linked with stronger associations between poor sleep quality and poor memory performance. In brief, protective factors, such as social support and religiosity may protect against age and race-related sleep disparities as well as the cognitive consequences of poor sleep.
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