Disturbed sleep and emotion : a developmental perspective

Abstract: Sleep disturbances are not only defining features, but also diagnostic criteria for most psychiatric disorders. Recently, researchers have proposed a theoretic role for sleep disturbances in emotion dysregulation, subsequently linking neurobiological processes and psychopathology. Most prior research examining the potential role for sleep disturbance in emotion dysregulation is from a neurophysiological or clinical perspective, or primarily focused on maintaining processes. Less well understood are how sleep disturbances may be involved at the levels of predisposition, precipitation, and perpetuation of emotion dysregulation concurrently and over time.This dissertation presents findings from three studies that were designed to expand on what is known about sleep disturbance in the predisposition, precipitation, and perpetuation of emotion dysregulation. Study 1 examined the long-term relation between sleep-onset problems and neuroticism over twenty-years. Adolescent sleep-onset posed risk (predisposition) for neuroticism in midlife, not vice versa. Study 2 investigated the effects of 3-nights partial sleep deprivation (5-hours total time in bed) on the positive and negative affect and emotions of otherwise healthy adults. Following partial sleep deprivation, people reported significant reductions in positive affect and emotions compared to rested people (precipitation). The only impact on negative emotions was on the discrete level. Sleep deprived peo-ple reported significantly more irritability, loathing, hostility, and shakiness compared to controls. Study 3 measured adolescent sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms, and catastrophic worry. In addition to direct risk, sleep disturbances posed a non-gender specific risk for depressive symptoms one-year later through catastrophic worry (perpetuation). Overall, the results provide support for the role of sleep disturbances in the predis-position, precipitation, and perpetuation of emotion dysregulation. An implication is that sleep disturbances and catastrophic worry are two po-tentially modifiable markers of risk for emotion dysregulation.