Everyone knows that being tired can make you irritable, but what if your emotions could keep you from sleeping? A new study finds that people whose emotional regulation skills degrade over time are more likely to develop insomnia. The research, from Öreobro University, Sweden, suggests that being able to regulate emotions could have long-term health impacts.
The researchers surveyed 2,333 adults in Sweden’s general population about emotional regulation and sleep. The study group completed questionnaires that asked about issues like impulse control, awareness, and problems with falling and staying asleep. The researchers conducted follow-up assessments six months later with 1,887 of the original participants and 18 months later with 1,795 participants.
Based on the results of the initial survey, the researchers found no link between emotional regulation and insomnia. However, the later surveys demonstrated a connection between the two. People whose ability to regulate their emotions had diminished since the first survey were more likely to have developed insomnia. Reduced emotional regulation was linked to an 11 percent increase in the risk of developing a new bout of insomnia or reporting persistent insomnia.
“These findings are important because, though the effect size is small, they suggest that teaching people strategies for regulating their emotions might help prevent new cases of insomnia to occur and decrease the risk of persistent insomnia,” stated study leader Markus Jansson-Fröjmark.
This research is published in the British Journal of Health Psychology.