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Obstructive sleep apnoea (OSA) is a disorder of breathing during sleep resulting in temporary reduction in cerebral oxygenation and sleep disruption. A growing body of research reveals a relatively consistent pattern of deficits in cognition, particularly in attention, episodic memory, and executive function, which are partially remediated by treatment. This is where the consensus ends. Despite a number of competing explanations regarding how OSA affects cognition, reliable evidence is hard to find, which may relate to the many, common conditions co-morbid with OSA or to the methodological challenges in this field. This paper reviews the evidence for cognitive impairment in OSA, the proposed models of cognitive harm, the impact of co-morbidities and the many methodological and theoretical challenges of exploring the effect of OSA on cognition. To overcome some of these challenges, we end by proposing a number of future directions for the field, including suggesting some core design elements for future studies.