Are your worries and anxieties keeping you up at night? This could be an unfortunate reason why they’re occurring in the first place according to a new scientific study from the US. Binghamton University Professor of Psychology Meredith Coles has conducted a study that identifies a link between poor sleep patterns and repetitive negative thoughts symptomatic of anxiety and depression.
The study analysed participants’ focus when it came to negative stimulus. The group was shown a series of images designed to elicit a range of emotions, from joy to sadness, while researchers tracked where their attention lingered by constantly monitoring their eye movements. Those study participants who had disrupted and shorter sleep periods spent more time focusing on the negative images than those who got the recommended 8 hours.
Based on the results, Professor Cole suggests that limited sleep may mean a person focuses on negative thoughts and events in their life, impacting their mental disposition and fostering itself as anxiety and depression.
"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," said Coles. "While other people may be able to receive negative information and move on, the participants had trouble ignoring it."
Cole and her team are continuing their research as they uncover these results, evaluating how healthier sleep patterns can be implemented to assist those suffering with mental health issues to disengage from negative stimulus. If their theories are correct, the team believes that sleep could one day be used as an effect treatment method by psychologists as part of a holistic treatment program.
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