Abstract Despite the prevalence of sleep complaints among psychiatric patients, few questionnaires have been specifically designed to measure sleep quality in clinical populations. The Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI) is a self-rated questionnaire which assesses sleep quality and disturbances over a 1-month time interval. Nineteen individual items generate seven “component” scores: subjective sleep quality, sleep latency, sleep duration, habitual sleep efficiency, sleep disturbances, use of sleeping medication, and daytime dysfunction. The sum of scores for these seven components yields one global score. Clinical and clinimetric properties of the PSQI were assessed over an 18-month period with “good” sleepers (healthy subjects, n = 52) and “poor” sleepers (depressed patients, n = 54; sleep-disorder patients, n = 62). Acceptable measures of internal homogeneity, consistency (test-retest reliability), and validity were obtained. A global PSQI score > 5 yielded a diagnostic sensitivity of 89.6% and specificity of 86.5% (kappa = 0.75, p ⩽ 0.001) in distinguishing good and poor sleepers. The clinemetric and clinical properties of the PSQI suggest its utility both in psychiatric clinical practice and research activities.