Sleeping Less Than Eight Hours Linked to Depression and Anxiety in New Study
Sleep-deprived individuals are less able to quickly shift their attention away from distressing stimuli. As a result, negative thoughts may stick with them throughout the day more strongly than better rested people. The findings, published in , suggest that lack of sleep really can make us sad. The study also points toward rest as a ke treatment options for certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Researchers assessed the sleeping habits of 52 volunteers who also had moderate to high levels of repetitive thoughts, accoding to their score on the Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire (a psychological test known as ). The volunteers looked at photos and images designed to trigger a negative emotional response, such as guns or knives, and also neutral and positive images. They studied the volunteers’ eye movement, paying particular attention to how quickly they averted their eyes from the disturbing images.
According to the results, individuals who were sleep deprived—defined by sleeping less than eight hours a night—were slower to look away from the disturbing images. The study concluded that this problem may go even deeper, suggesting that sleep-deprived individuals may also have problems diverting their attention away from negative thoughts and ideas. The researchers hypothesized that such thoughts may put these individuals at greater risk for certain mention health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.
Sleeping is important for mental health.
“This repetitive negative thinking is relevant to several different disorders like anxiety, depression and many other things,” said Meredith Coles, a psychology professor at Binghamton University and study co-author said in a statement. This work is novel, Coles says, “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.”
There has been a long standing hypothesis between the link between depression and sleep deprivation. A number of studies have indicateed that people with insomnia are 10 times more likely to develop depression than people who get a good nights rest.
If lack of sleep does contribute to depression and anxiety, then addressing sleep problems could also be key to alleviating these conditions as well.
Many people who suffer from depression and/or anxiety recognise that a lack of sleep is one of the major symptons and there have been many studies showing links between sleep and depression.
We use a combination of mindfulness meditation as well as an app called Brain.FM to make sure we get sufficient sleep.