Home Clinical Psychology & Psychotherapy Catastrophising and Worry Significantly Contribute to Insomnia; Rumination Does Not, According to New Study

Catastrophising and Worry Significantly Contribute to Insomnia; Rumination Does Not, According to New Study

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Researchers from Toronto Metropolitan University and the Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm recently conducted a study to better understand the complex relationship between various types of negative thought processes and insomnia. This study, published in the journal Behavioral Sleep Medicine, explores how these cognitive patterns contribute to insomnia symptoms.

Insomnia is characterised by difficulties in initiating or maintaining sleep, often accompanied by significant distress or impairment in daily functioning. According to the American Psychiatric Association, insomnia must persist for at least three nights per week over a period of three months to meet the criteria for a clinical diagnosis. It’s estimated that around 10% of the population suffers from insomnia at any given time, with the disorder being linked to both mental and physical health issues, including depression and anxiety.

Negative thought processes, such as catastrophising, worry, and rumination, are known to exacerbate insomnia. Catastrophizing involves anticipating the worst possible outcomes, worry entails a chain of negatively-toned thoughts, and rumination is the repetitive focus on distressing symptoms and their consequences. While these thought patterns are recognised in the literature, their distinct roles and overlapping features in the context of insomnia have not been thoroughly investigated.

The research team recruited 360 university students, a group with a high prevalence of insomnia symptoms, to participate in the study. The participants completed various scales designed to measure insomnia-related negative thought processes, including the Catastrophic Thoughts about Insomnia Scale, the Anxiety and Preoccupation about Sleep Questionnaire, and the Daytime Insomnia Symptom Response Scale. Insomnia symptoms were assessed using the Insomnia Severity Index and the Sleep Condition Indicator.

The results indicated that the scales measuring catastrophizing, worry, and rumination had acceptable reliabilities and that these constructs could be considered distinct. Confirmatory factor analysis supported the distinctiveness of the three negative thought processes. It was found that catastrophizing and worry were significantly associated with insomnia symptoms, while rumination was not.

These findings have important implications for the development of cognitive models of insomnia. Current models suggest that negative thought processes play a crucial role in maintaining insomnia by triggering and intensifying sleep difficulties. The study’s results support the notion that catastrophizing and worry are particularly relevant to insomnia symptoms, potentially leading to heightened arousal and disruption of sleep.

The distinction between these thought processes also suggests that they might trigger different emotional and physiological responses, thereby affecting insomnia in varied ways. For instance, worry and catastrophizing might lead to increased central nervous system arousal, which is detrimental to sleep, whereas rumination might be more related to daytime symptoms like fatigue.

The study underscores the need for tailored interventions targeting specific negative thought processes to improve treatment outcomes for insomnia. Cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) for insomnia has shown moderate-to-large effects in reducing worry but smaller effects on rumination. These findings highlight the importance of developing specific strategies within CBT to address the distinct cognitive patterns associated with insomnia.

Future research is recommended to explore the conceptual overlap between these negative thought processes further and to refine cognitive models of insomnia. Investigating additional factors such as perfectionism and intolerance of uncertainty could provide a more comprehensive understanding of the cognitive underpinnings of insomnia.

© Copyright 2014–2034 Psychreg Ltd