Author Interviews, Mental Health Research, Sleep Disorders / 31.12.2014

Jacob Nota M.S. Binghamton Anxiety Clinic Department of Psychology Binghamton University Binghamton, NY Interview with: Jacob Nota M.S. Binghamton Anxiety Clinic Department of Psychology Binghamton University Binghamton, NY 13902 Medical Research: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings? Response: As psychologists we are interested in helping individuals improve their quality of life and reduce their symptoms. We know that many people, including those with anxiety and mood disorders, are bothered by repetitive negative thoughts that feel like they are out of control. We are always looking for new ways that we might be able to reduce these kinds of symptoms. We are specifically interested in learning more about how sleep relates to psychopathology because an extensive literature documents the cognitive and emotional impact of sleep disruption. Therefore, addressing sleep disruption may be another avenue for us to explore for helping out clients. However, there is relatively little research on the relation between sleep timing and psychopathology compared to that studying the relation between sleep duration and psychopathology, despite previous studies showing that individuals who go to bed later than they want to have more disorders characterized by worry, rumination, and obsessing. This study collected cross-sectional data (i.e., measuring sleep, worry, rumination, and obsessing all at the same point in time) from a group of 100 young adults at Binghamton University. We looked at measures of worry, rumination, and obsessing as well as a newer measure of the process thought to be shared across these psychological phenomena (repetitive negative thinking). We found that people who sleep for shorter amounts of time and go to bed later also have greater levels of worry, rumination, and obsessing. This is called repetitive negative thinking (RNT). We also found that individuals who are classified as "evening type" (i.e., tend to stay up later and shape their daily activities around this schedule), a trait that is linked to biological circadian rhythms, report significantly greater levels of repetitive negative thinking compared to individuals who are "morning" or neither type (i.e., not strongly morning or evening). This is one of the first studies to show that repetitive negative thinking is related to both how long you sleep and when you sleep. (more…)