Patients with schizophrenia are often plagued by sleep disturbances that can exacerbate the illness, including potentiating psychosis and cognitive impairments. Cognitive dysfunction is a core feature of schizophrenia with learning and memory being particularly impaired. Sleep disruptions often accompanying the illness and may be key mechanism that contribute to these core dysfunctions. In this special translational neuroscience feature, we highlight the role of sleep in mediating cognitive function, with a special focus on learning and memory. By defining dysfunctional sleep architecture and rhythms in schizophrenia, we focus on the disarray of mechanisms critical to learning and memory and postulate an association between sleep disturbances and cognitive impairments in the disorder. Lastly, we review preclinical models of schizophrenia and highlight exciting translational research that may lead to new therapeutic approaches to alleviating sleep disturbances and effectively improving cognitive function in schizophrenia.