People spend one-third of their lives sleeping, which has forced scientists and experts to wonder why sleep is so necessary for humans to survive. When a person is asleep, the brain gets ample rest and an opportunity to rework and reconnect information assimilated during the day, which is essential for the brain to function properly. When the brain does not get the required rest, it might not work properly, leading to an array of mental health problems.
This was further corroborated by a recent study, published in the journal ScienceDirect. The research showed that eight hours of sleep per night is an absolute must for humans to function optimally. It said not getting the recommended eight hours of sleep might lead to repetitive and disturbing thoughts, some of the symptoms of mental illnesses like depression and anxiety. The study titled “Shorter sleep duration and longer sleep onset latency are related to difficulty disengaging attention from negative emotional images in individuals with elevated transdiagnostic repetitive negative thinking,” was conducted at the Binghamton University, New York.
Lesser sleeping hours linked to negative thoughts
The researchers tried to evaluate the timing and sleep duration in participants with medium to high levels of repetitive thoughts (including rumination and worry). They exposed the participants to altered pictures meant to evoke an emotional reaction, and tracked their attention by observing their eye movements. The researchers found that people who had disturbed sleep had difficulty in shifting attention away from negative information. This showed that lack of sleep made negative intrusive thoughts stay in the brain for a longer period of time.
Co-author Meredith Coles, a professor of psychology at the Binghamton University, said that the study participants had the tendency to get thoughts stuck in their heads. Moreover, their higher level of negative thinking made it harder for them to separate their thoughts from the negative stimuli shown to them. People with sound and adequate sleep were able to weather negative information and move on, compared to those who had difficulty in sleeping, said co-author Jacob Nota, a former graduate student. Negative thoughts made people susceptible to psychological disorders like anxiety, depression, etc. Coles further said that these findings might be helpful in the future because of the association of the pattern of repetitive negative thinking with several mental disorders like depression and anxiety.
Additionally, the researchers also explored the overlap between sleep interruptions and how they affected the process of ignoring obsessive negative thoughts. Based on the findings, the researchers are now trying to evaluate how the timing and duration of sleep might help in the development and maintenance of psychological disorders. If their theories are correct, the findings could enable psychologists to treat depression and anxiety by initiating healthier sleep timings and durations for patients.
Dealing with anxiety disorders
Anxiety disorder is a debilitating mental condition, and its symptoms may exacerbate if treatment is relegated to a later date. While 18.1 percent of the American population suffers from anxiety disorders, one must remember that it can be treated. If you have a loved one grappling with an anxiety disorder, seek immediate help from a credible rehab center.
Sovereign Health, the leading addiction and behavioral treatment center in the United States, offers comprehensive and long-term recovery for mental disorders like depression and anxiety. Get in touch with our 24/7 helpline members to know about our anxiety disorder treatment programs. You may even chat online with our experts for more information about our anxiety disorder treatment centers for your loved one.