Not Getting Enough Sleep Linked To Anxiety and Depression

man sleeping

Study offers more reasons to get eight hours of sound sleep

You have probably heard that getting a good night’s sleep is important to good health. But did you know a lack of sleep can trigger symptoms commonly seen in anxiety and depression?

According to a new study released by Binghamton University, State University of New York, it’s true.

Investigators have found that people who do not get at least eight hours of sleep each night are vulnerable to intrusive, repetitive thoughts, similar to what is seen anxiety or depression.

Professor of Psychology Meredith Coles and former graduate student Jacob Nota (both with Binghamton) assessed the timing and duration of sleep in persons with moderate to elevated levels of repetitive negative thoughts.

Examples include worry and rumination.

Participants in the study were exposed to different photos designed to trigger an emotional response. Afterwards, investigators monitored their attention through eye movements.

The study has been published in ScienceDirect.

The researchers observed that regular sleep disruptions were associated with difficulty in moving one’s attention away from negative thoughts.

They conclude this could mean inadequate sleep may contribute to what makes negative thoughts remain present, thereby interfering with people’s lives.

“We found that people in this study have some tendencies to have thoughts get stuck in their heads, and their elevated negative thinking makes it difficult for them to disengage with the negative stimuli that we exposed them to,” stated Coles.

“While other people may be able to receive negative information and move on, the participants had trouble ignoring it.”

She added: “These negative thoughts are believed to leave people vulnerable to different types of psychological disorders, such as anxiety or depression.”

The research has been released in close proximity to a previous study from the University of New York that suggests sound sleep may help strengthen memory retrieval.

Says Cole, “We realized over time that this might be important — this repetitive negative thinking is relevant to several different disorders like anxiety, depression and many other things.”

The Binghamton University study is unique.

“This is novel in that we’re exploring the overlap between sleep disruptions and the way they affect these basic processes that help in ignoring those obsessive negative thoughts,” says Cole.

The researchers are continuing to examine this discovery and evaluating how timing and duration of sleep may also influence the development of other psychological disorders.

Should their theories prove to be accurate, their findings could allow helping professionals a new way to treat anxiety and depression by customizing recommendations for sleep in ways that patients can adhere to when getting into bed at night.

Source: Science Direct

About Tyler Fortman 13 Articles
Tyler Fortman writes about men’s interest topics, including mental health, self-esteem, science, and sports research. A licensed psychologist, he holds a Ph.D. from the Ohio State University. Be sure to follow Tyler on on Twitter