Early to bed, early to rise, makes a person … well, you know the rest. Now it seems that in addition to making you healthy, wealthy and wise, going to sleep earlier means you’ll be free of a lot of stress, as people who go to bed late worry more. Binghamton University psychologist Jacob Nota surveyed 100 students about their sleep habits and their worries. “After analyzing their responses,” reports New York Magazine, “the researchers found an association between repetitive negative thinking and later bedtimes.” Nota’s study shows that “shorter sleep duration was cross-sectionally associated with more rumination and delayed sleep timing was associated with more obsessive–compulsive symptoms.”
As Melissa Dahl notes, the link between later bedtimes and worry probably lies in the brain’s prefrontal cortex, the area of the brain which governs how well we focus on stuff, and one that is “particularly sensitive to sleep deprivation.” This whole lack of sleep linked to worrying more thing has me worried, and caught in a Catch-22. Can I not fall asleep because I’m worried, or is my lack of sleep making me worry more? I’m wide awake and writing this at four in the morning. Maybe I should sleep in. If I can fall asleep, that is.