According to a new study, getting less than eight hours sleep per night has been linked to intrusive, repetitive thoughts like those experiencing with anxiety or depression.
Researchers at Binghamton University assessed the sleep quality of individuals with moderate to high levels of negative thoughts, then exposed them to a range of images intended to trigger an emotional response while tracking their attention through eye movements. They discovered that regular sleep disruptions were linked to a difficulty in shifting attention away from negative information, leading to a fixation on negative events, thoughts and feelings.
"We found that people in this study have some tendencies to have thoughts get stuck in their heads, and their elevated negative thinking makes it difficult for them to disengage with the negative stimuli that we exposed them to," co-author Meredith Coles said.
"While other people may be able to receive negative information and move on, the participants had trouble ignoring it."
This likely to affect plenty of Australians.
A 2016 study by the Sleep Health Foundation found that the average reported sleep time of Australians is seven hours and the percentage of adults who report difficulties sleeping at least a few times a week or more, is high. Meanwhile, one in five Australians experience a mental health condition in a given year and almost one in two will experience a mental health condition at some point in their lifetime.
If you're struggling with anxiety and sleep quality, the Sleep Health Foundation recommends cutting back on alcohol and caffeine intake, particularly in the four hours before going to bed. They also suggest implementing good sleep habits like a regular evening routine and relaxation techniques. Always talk to a GP, sleep specialist or psychologist if problems persist.