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Sleep. 2019 Apr 1;42(4). pii: zsy268. doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsy268.

Overnight worsening of emotional distress indicates maladaptive sleep in insomnia.

Author information

1
Department of Sleep and Cognition, Netherlands Institute for Neuroscience, An Institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
2
Department of Social, Health and Organisational Psychology, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
3
Department of Experimental Psychology, Helmholtz Institute, Utrecht University, Utrecht, The Netherlands.
4
Department of Psychology, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
5
Amsterdam Brain and Cognition, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
6
Institute for Psychotherapy, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
7
Department of Integrative Neurophysiology, Center for Neurogenomics and Cognitive Research, Amsterdam Neuroscience, VU University Amsterdam, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.
8
Amsterdam UMC, Vrije Universiteit, Psychiatry, Amsterdam Neuroscience, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Abstract

STUDY OBJECTIVES:

Mechanisms underlying the distress of hyperarousal in people with insomnia remain enigmatic. We investigated whether insomnia impedes the overnight adaptation to emotional distress.

METHODS:

We induced the distressful self-conscious emotion of shame four times across three consecutive days by exposing 64 participants to their often embarrassingly out-of-tune singing, recorded earlier during a Karaoke session. Perceived physical, emotional, and social distress was assessed with the Experiential Shame Scale.

RESULTS:

Compared to exposures followed by wakefulness, exposures followed by sleep resulted in overnight relief of physical component of shame in normal sleepers, but in a striking opposite overnight worsening in people with insomnia.

CONCLUSIONS:

Our findings are the first to experimentally show that the benefits of sleep are not only lost when sleep is poor; people with insomnia experience a maladaptive type of sleep that actually aggravates physically perceived distress. Maladaptive sleep could shed new light on posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and on diurnal mood fluctuation and the counterintuitive favorable effects of sleep deprivation in depression.

KEYWORDS:

emotion regulation; insomnia; self-conscious emotion; shame; sleep

PMID:
30590834
DOI:
10.1093/sleep/zsy268

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