When you go to bed, and how long you sleep at a time, might actually make it difficult for you to stop worrying. So say researchers at Binghamton University in the US, who found that people who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed very late at night are often overwhelmed with more negative thoughts than those who keep more regular sleeping hours.

People are said to have repetitive negative thinking when they have bothersome pessimistic thoughts that seem to repeat in their minds. They feel as though they have little control over these contemplations. They also tend to worry excessively about the future, delve too much into the past, and experience annoying intrusive thoughts. Such thoughts are often typical of people suffering from generalized anxiety disorder, major depressive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, and social anxiety disorder. These individuals also tend to have sleep problems.

Previous studies have linked sleep problems with such repetitive negative thoughts, especially in cases where someone does not get enough shut eye. Researchers set out to replicate these studies, and to further see if there’s any link between having such repetitive thoughts and the actual time when someone goes to bed.

They asked 100 young adults at Binghamton University to complete a battery of questionnaires and two computerized tasks. In the process, it was measured how much the students worry, ruminate or obsess about something — three measures by which repetitive negative thinking is gauged. The students were also asked whether they were more habitual morning or evening types, preferring to hold regular hours or to have a sleep-wake schedule that is more skewed towards later in the day.

The researchers found that people who sleep for shorter periods of time and go to bed later often experience more repetitive negative thoughts than others. This was also true for those students who described themselves as evening types.

“Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disseminable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts,” remarks lead researcher.

The findings also suggest that sleep disruption may be linked to the development of repetitive negative thinking. Researchers therefore believe that it might benefit people who are at risk of developing a disorder characterized by such intrusive thoughts to focus on getting enough sleep.

“If further findings support the relation between sleep timing and repetitive negative thinking, this could one day lead to a new avenue for treatment of individuals with internalizing disorders”. “Studying the relation between reductions in sleep duration and psychopathology has already demonstrated that focusing on sleep in the clinic also leads to reductions in symptoms of psychopathology.”

This study is part of a line of research examining the relations between sleep behavior and mental health

Cognitive Therapy and Research

Dr. Keith & Laurie Nemec’s comments on “To Get Rid of Stress Just Go to Bed Earlier”:

What this study shows is so simple, so basic yet so misunderstood. We at Total Health Institute have been helping patients restore their health for the last 30 years. In this time we have seen what the triggers of disease are and what produces health. What we have found is that you simply cannot ignore or skip basics of health. One of those BIG basics is sleep. We have heard the excuses so many times some of which include:

  • I get by just fine with 5-6 hours of sleep and I usually go to bed around 11PM to midnight. I feel great so that is just how my body works.
  • I am just a night person. I cannot fall asleep before midnight.
  • I go to bed at midnight but sleep to 8 in the morning and I feel good.
  • I have too much to do to get to bed before 11PM.
  • Or one person who says hes goes to bed at 2AM each night (or morning we should say) and wakes up at 6AM and feels good and has been doing this for the last 20 years.

There are two issues we will address with sleep. The first is the mental/emotional ramifications the second are the physical repercussions of incorrect sleep time.

What this study is saying that you are going to be more mentally stressed if you do not get to bed early (between 8-9PM). The longer you are up the more the mind can consciously and subconsciously ponder on negative events of the past and of the potential future.

What happens when you go to bed early between 8PM and 9PM is that first of all the REM or deep sleep pattern that produce your brain waves becomes more balanced.

Second you mentally and emotionally “detoxify” all the mental and emotional garbage that you picked up from being exposed to toxic people in a toxic world.

Third as this study showed that negative thoughts repeat more and more the later you go to sleep. Important to note here is these thoughts do not have to be consciously noticed, many times they are repeated in the subconscious mind as a bad program being repeated over and over and over. What this means to you is even though you are not aware of it your subconscious mind which affects your mental and physical health 100 times more than your conscious thinking aware mind, is producing 100 times more negativity and stress to your whole system simply because you chose to go to bed after 9PM. The medicine is so easy and doesn’t cost much either, just get to bed early.

Now about the physical side of sleep. Your body works on a circadian rhythm and this rhythm is tied into the sun. When the sun goes down you are physiologically and hormonally going into a repair, maintenance and healing phase. This is what all humankind had experienced until the invention of the the light bulb which enabled everyone to stay up as late as they wanted. This is why shift workers have at least a 60% increase in cancer risk and with a trend of increasing risk with increasing number of years of work or with more hours per week of shift work.

Also most healing and repairing of your cells occurs before midnight so the more premidnight sleep you get the more you heal and the healthier you will always be. No excuses, no short cuts, JUST DO IT.