Metacognitive beliefs affect sleep quality in older adults

  • N. Cellini
  • E. Sella
  • L. Miola
  • M. Sarlo
  • E. Borella


Background: Sleep plays a critical role in physical and mental health. During aging, there are physiological changes that influence sleep quality. Metacognitive activities, such as dysfunctional beliefs and attitude about sleep as well as nighttime thought management strategies, may also affect sleep quality. Here we aim to examine the relationship between metacognitive activity and objective and subjective sleep quality in elderly people. Methods: Metacognition such as dysfunctional beliefs, metacognitive beliefs about sleep, and thoughts control strategies related to sleep were assessed in fifty older adults (33 female, Mage=70.4±7.43 years) with no symptoms of dementia and depression. Participants’ perceived sleep quality was assessed via a reliable and widely used self-report, namely the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index, while objective measures of sleep were obtained via 7-day of actigraphic recordings. Univariate and multivariate regression analyses were employed to assess the relationship between metacognitive measures and perceived and objective sleep quality. Findings: The results showed that the age per se did not influence the quality of sleep. In contrast, metacognitive beliefs were positively associated with poor sleep quality and with the frequency of thoughts control strategies. Higher strategies of cognitive and behavioral distraction were instead positively related with subjective sleep quality. Interestingly, objective sleep measures were not associated with metacognitive variables. Discussion: In summary, the current results show that metacognitive beliefs negatively affect the perception of sleep quality in older adults. Interventions targeting these metacognitive beliefs may improve sleep quality and positively impact the well-being of older adults.
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