Sleep Disturbance and Its Association With Sluggish Cognitive Tempo and Attention in Pediatric Brain Tumor Survivors

Ineke M. Olsthoorn, Alice Ann Holland, Raymond C. Hawkins, Allen E. Cornelius, Muhammad Usman Baig, Grace Yang, Daniel C. Holland, Wafik Zaky, Peter L Stavinoha

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Pediatric brain tumor (PBT) survivors are at risk for developing sleep disturbances. While in other pediatric populations sleep disturbance has been associated with worse cognitive functioning, it is unclear to what extent this relationship generalizes to PBT survivors. The aim of the current study was to assess the relationship between sleep disturbance and aspects of cognition, including sluggish cognitive tempo (SCT) as well as attention and working memory. Materials and Methods: Eighty-three PBT survivors 6–18 years of age who were at least 3 months post-treatment were included in the present cross-sectional study. Level of sleep disturbance was measured as a composite score reflecting various sleep problems as rated by caregivers. Cognitive measures included caregiver-ratings of sluggish cognitive tempo and attention problems, as well as performance-based cognitive measures assessing attention and executive functioning. Hierarchical regression analysis was used to assess associations between sleep and cognition. Results: Of all caregivers, 32.5% reported one or more sleep disturbances as “very/often true” and over 68% of caregivers rated at least one sleep-related item as “somewhat true.” Of all cognitive variables, scores were most frequently impaired for SCT (30%). A higher level of sleep disturbance was associated with worse SCT and parent-rated attention problems. Associations between sleep and performance-based cognitive measures assessing attention and working memory were not statistically significant. Conclusion: Findings of the current study highlight the importance of further investigation into the relationship between sleep and cognition in PBT survivors, which may assist efforts to maximize cognitive outcome and health-related quality of life in PBT survivors. The current study additionally suggests further investigation of SCT in this population is warranted, as it may be more sensitive to detecting possible associations with sleep disturbance relative to discrete measures that assess cognitive performance under ideal circumstances.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number918800
JournalFrontiers in Neuroscience
StatePublished - Jun 23 2022


  • attention
  • brain tumor survivor
  • cancer
  • executive functioning
  • pediatric
  • sleep
  • sluggish cognitive tempo

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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