The aim of this study is to validate the Italian version of the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), comparing five different groups of individuals (healthy young and elderly, sleep apnoea syndrome patients, depressed patients, individuals with dementia) by both questionnaire scores and polysomnographic measures. Fifty individuals (10 for each group) participated in the study. Each of them filled in the PSQI and slept for two consecutive nights in the sleep laboratory. The PSQI showed an overall reliability coefficient (Cronbach's α) of 0.835, indicating a high degree of internal consistency. The mean PSQI global score showed significant differences between groups, with an impaired overall quality of sleep in patients' groups with respect to both the healthy groups. Results also indicated that the best cut-off score (differentiating "good" from "bad" sleepers) is 5. Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index is a useful, valid and reliable tool for the assessment of sleep quality, with an overall efficiency comparable to the mother language version and differentiate "good" from "bad" sleepers. The Italian version of the questionnaire provides a good and reliable differentiation between normal and pathological groups, with higher scores reported by people characterized by impaired objectively evaluated sleep quality.