Summary: According to researchers, going to be late can result in lower perceived control of obsessive thoughts for those with OCD.
Source: Binghamton University.
A late bedtime is associated with lower perceived control of obsessive thoughts, according to new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York.
Binghamton University Professor of Psychology Meredith E. Coles and former graduate student Jessica Schubert (now at University of Michigan Medical School) monitored twenty individuals diagnosed with OCD and ten individuals endorsing subthreshold OCD symptoms during one week of sleep. Participants completed sleep diaries and daily ratings of perceived degree of control over obsessive thoughts and ritualized behaviors. The researchers found that previous night’s bedtime significantly predicted participants’ perceived ability to control their obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior on the subsequent day.
“We’re really interested in how this kind of unusual timing of sleep might affect cognitive functioning,” said Schubert. “One possibility is impulse control. It might be that something about shifting the timing of your sleep might reduce your ability to control your thoughts and your behaviors, so it might make it more likely that you’re going to have a hard time dismissing intrusive thoughts characteristic of obsessions, and it might make it more difficult for you to refrain from compulsive behaviors that are designed to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts.”
On average participants in the study went to bed around 12:30 at night. Patients who met criteria for delayed sleep phase disorder, about 40% of the sample, went to bed around 3 a.m.
“I always knew you were supposed to get eight hours of sleep, but I was never told it matters when you do it,” said Coles. “It’s been striking to me that this difference seems to be very specific to the circadian component of when you sleep. That we find that there are specific negative consequences of sleeping at the wrong times, that’s something to educate the public about.”
The researchers are interested in exploring this phenomenon further. Coles plans on collecting pilot data using lightboxes to shift people’s bedtimes. “It’s one of our first efforts to actually shift their bedtimes and see if it reduces their OCD symptoms, and if this improves their ability to resist those intrusive thoughts and not develop compulsions in response to them.”
The paper, “Later bedtime is associated with decrements in perceived control of obsessions and compulsions,” was presented at the 31st Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Source: Meredith Coles – Binghamton University
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Original Research: Abstract for “Later bedtime is associated with decrements in perceived control of obsessions and compulsions” by JR Schubert, ME Coles, and J Arnedt in Sleep. Published online April 28 2017 doi:10.1093/sleepj/zsx050.1127
Later bedtime is associated with decrements in perceived control of obsessions and compulsions
Accumulating evidence links sleep timing disruptions with obsessive-compulsive symptoms and poor treatment response. One theory proposes that impaired response inhibition contributes to the persistence of obsessions and compulsions, and research has similarly suggested that poor inhibitory control may be one cognitive consequence of sleep/circadian disruption. We hypothesize that individuals with disrupted sleep timing may lack the ability to dismiss obsessive thoughts and compulsive behaviors, ultimately resulting in more severe and treatment-resistant symptoms.
Twenty individuals diagnosed with OCD and ten individuals endorsing subthreshold OCD symptoms participated in one week of sleep and OC symptom monitoring. Participants wore actigraphs and completed sleep diaries and daily ratings of perceived degree of control over obsessive thoughts and ritualized behaviors. Hierarchical Linear Modeling (HLM) was used to investigate the interplay of sleep timing and OCD symptoms over time.
The relation between perceived control of obsessions and previous night’s bedtime was significant, t (27) = -3.23, p < .01, b = -2.77), indicating that later previous night’s bedtime was associated with lower perceived control of obsessive thoughts, when controlling for previous day’s perceived control of obsessions. Similarly, the relation between perceived control of compulsions and previous night’s bedtime approached significance. Consistent with our directional hypothesis, neither perceived control over obsessions or compulsions significantly predicted changes in bedtime.
These findings are consistent with the inhibitory failure theory of OCD which suggests that deficits in the ability to dismiss intrusions result in clinically significant obsessions, and similarly, and impaired behavioral inhibition gives rise to compulsions. We propose that disrupted sleep timing may be one mechanism which confers risk for such inhibitory deficits. Considering OCD-focused psychotherapy relies on refraining from compulsions, inhibitory control deficits may explain why individuals with comorbid OCD and sleep/circadian disruption have more severe and treatment-refractory symptoms.
“Later bedtime is associated with decrements in perceived control of obsessions and compulsions” by JR Schubert, ME Coles, and J Arnedt in Sleep. Published online April 28 2017 doi:10.1093/sleepj/zsx050.1127