Poor quality sleep may interfere with your ability of being optimistic about life, according to a study made by various researchers. This is especially relevant for people who suffer from anxiety and/or depression, who experience harsher effects of this cause. In their study, the researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (US), managed to use an MRI in order to monitor the activity existent in various regions of the brain, while the subjects had to carry an emotion-regulation task.
Who Were the Subjects?
The scientists employed around 78 subjects, with ages found between 18 and 65, who had a diagnosis either of a major depressive or an anxiety disorder, or both. They received a questionnaire with which they had to evaluate their sleep in the previous month.
Next, they had to watch some disturbing and violent images (accidents or war), which they had to react without trying to control their emotions. Moreover, they weren’t allowed to try to interpret what they were seeing in a positive light either, for example if they saw a woman with a bruised face, they shouldn’t have imagined her as an actress, let’s say, but see it as a survivor of violence.
With the help of an actigraph (a special device based on motion-sense), scientists monitored how much time the subjects spent awake in their beds over 6 days. The results showed that people who declared in the questionnaire that they had poor sleep recorded less brain activity in certain areas of the cortex when they had to reappraise the images they saw.
The scientists also noticed that, according to the questionnaire, 3 out of 4 subjects had significant sleep disturbance. Moreover, the actigraph revealed that most of them suffered from insomnia. In conclusion, the research shows that sleep plays a major role in the capacity of the brain to regulate negative emotions.