The Role of Sleep Disturbance in Anxiety-Related Symptoms
Cox, Rebecca Claire
Recent research has linked sleep disturbance with anxiety-related symptoms and disorders. However, limited research has attempted to delineate specific mechanisms that may account for this relationship, and the extent to which this relationship is accounted for by depression remains unclear. To address these gaps in the literature, study one examined the links between sleep disturbance and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in a nationally representative sample. Consistent with predictions, results revealed that sleep disturbance severity was associated with OCS severity, even when controlling for depression (and other anxiety-related disorders). Study two examined executive function as a potential mechanism that may account for the relationship between sleep disturbance and repetitive thought, including worry and rumination. Consistent with predictions, results of a structural equation model revealed that executive function significantly accounted for the relationship between sleep disturbance and repetitive thought above and beyond the effects of general distress. Take together, these findings offer preliminary evidence for a unique relationship between sleep disturbance and anxiety-related symptoms that is not accounted for by depression. Further, executive function may function as a mechanism in this relationship. The implications for anxiety-related disorders are discussed.