We all know we should get more sleep, but between the endless cornucopia of streaming video and the existential loathing seething throughout all aspects of the dystopian future we’ve found ourselves in, it’s far too easy to stay up too late each night. While sleep disturbances due to binge-watching are one thing, insomnia stemming from depression and negative thoughts is another. Scientists have known that many depressed or anxious individuals have trouble sleeping, but now new research from State University of New York at Binghamton has found a link between getting less than eight hours of sleep each night and the repetitive negative thinking associated with depression and anxiety.
SUNY Binghamton psychologist Meredith Coles and her former graduate student Jacob Nota examined the sleep habits of fifty-two adults who had been diagnosed as having repetitive negative thinking, or RNT. Individuals who slept less than eight hours a night were found to engage in repetitive negative thinking far more often than individuals who slept longer. According to Coles, this suggests people who struggle to clear their minds of negative thoughts are often vulnerable to psychological disorders like anxiety or depression:
We’re exploring the overlap between sleep disruptions and the way they affect these basic processes that help in ignoring those obsessive negative thoughts. 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.
Think about it: when you don’t get enough sleep, have you found yourself cranky and irritable the next day? Over time, those effects on your mood can become permanent – particularly if you are already susceptible to negative thinking due to depression or anxiety. If you’re looking to brighten your outlook in the New Year, try getting some sleep.