Sleeping less than eight hours linked to depression and anxiety in new study

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(Dana Dovey/ Newsweek)  — Lack of sleep may cause more than just dark circles under your eyes. New research found that people who sleep less than the recommended eight hours are also more likely to have repetitive negative thoughts, a finding that could explain the link between sleep and mental health.

Sleep-deprived individuals are less able to quickly shift their attention away from distressing stimuli. As a result, negative thoughts may stick with them throughout the day more strongly than better rested people. The findings, published in Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, suggest that lack of sleep really can make us sad. The study also points toward rest as a key treatment options for certain mental health conditions, such as depression and anxiety.

For the study, researchers assessed the sleep habits of 52 volunteers who also had moderate to high levels of repetitive thoughts, indicated by their score on a psychological test known as the Perseverative Thinking Questionnaire. The volunteers looked at photos and images designed to trigger a negative emotional response, such as guns or knives, and also neutral and positive images. They studied the volunteers’ eye movement, paying particular attention to how quickly they averted their eyes from the disturbing images. (…)

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