A recent study has found that sleeping less than the recommended eight hours a night is associated with intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those seen in anxiety or depression, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York. The results can be found in the report 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. Below are excerpts of the report:

Repetitive negative thinking (RNT) is often associated with disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms. Disruptions in sleep and circadian rhythms may deal a “second hit” to attentional control deficits. This study evaluated whether sleep and circadian rhythm disruptions are related to the top-down control of attention to negative stimuli in individuals with heightened repetitive negative thinking.

The study looked at 52 adults with “high levels” of Repetitive Negative Thinking and variable sleeping habits and found that shorter sleep duration and longer sleep onset latencies resulted in more time looking at emotionally negative images during a free-viewing attention task, and more difficulty disengaging attention from negative compared to neutral images during a directed attention task.

These findings suggest that sleep disruption may be associated with a specific impact on cognitive resources that are necessary for the top-down inhibitory control of attention to emotionally negative information.