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Sleep Disruptions May Contribute to Depression, Anxiety

Repetitive negative thinking is often associated with disruptions in sleep. A recent study suggests that getting fewer than eight hours of sleep per night may contribute to repetitive negative thoughts, which may in turn contribute to the development of disorders such as anxiety and depression.


Participants in the study included 52 people with high levels of transdiagnostic repetitive negative thinking and varying habitual sleep durations and bedtimes. All of the participants were shown images designed to elicit an emotional response and their reactions were tracked via their eye movements.


The researchers found that people who had regular sleep disruptions were more likely to have difficulty shifting their attention away from negative information. Longer sleep onset latencies were also associated with difficulty disengaging attention from negative stimuli. Difficulty moving on from negative information is associated with repetitive thinking, which in turn is associated with psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety.


Researchers from Binghamton University conducted the study. It was published in the March 2018 issue of the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry.


Previous studies have linked not getting enough sleep with faster cognitive decline, increased blood pressure, and increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Some methods to try to improve your sleep include eating less high fat foods, eliminating “blue light” (such as the light from your phone) just before bed, and increasing exercise levels.

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