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Scientists uncover links between perfectionism and sleep disorders

January 20, 2017, 12:37 UTC+3 MOSCOW

The results of this study, which point to the interrelation between anxiety and insomnia, may be useful in developing new therapies to fight sleep disturbances

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© Etienne Oliveau/Getty Images

MOSCOW, January 13. /TASS/ Researchers from Higher School of Economics (HSE), Northumbria and Oxford Universities discovered that perfectionism together with high anxiety may lead to sleep disturbances, said the HSE press-service. The results of the study were published in Personality and Individual Differences journal.

The quality of perfectionists' sleep often leaves much to be desired. However, perfectionism itself is not the only cause responsible for insomnia. This link is often accompanied by an additional factor, hyper-anxiety, that is the propensity of an individual to the chronic feeling of disquiet caused by the slightest and most insignificant reasons. The researchers note that these peculiarities should be taken into account when treating insomnia in such cases.

Additionally, the scientists noted that perfectionism often comes with mental depression which motivated them to find out the relations between quality of sleep, perfectionism, anxiety, and depression. Subsequently, a study was put together with 78 subjects aged from 18 to 27 taking part. Split into two groups, the first half of the testees experienced no problems with sleep, while the second half often lied awake tossing and turning during the night, with this disorder carrying on anywhere from 3 months to 10 years.

The participants were asked to take some tests to reveal their rate of sleep disturbances, their perfectionism level, as well as anxiety and depression signs.

The study indicated that the sleep disturbances may indeed come with perfectionism and namely its particular manifestation: anxiety about possible mistakes, doubts about personal actions, as well as criticism from parents. And by the same token, perfectionists suffering from insomnia may acquire attributes of anxiety to such a point that a vicious cycle is built up. As a result, the person does not get enough sleep and consequently does not feel vigorous, thereby creating negative expectations and fear of not getting enough sleep again magnifying the anxiety which in turn keeps the person from falling asleep. Surprisingly, compared to anxiety, depression does not so adversely affect the perfectionists’ ability to get a good night’s sleep.

The results of this study, which point to the interrelation between anxiety and insomnia, may be useful in developing new therapies to fight sleep disturbances. The authors advise people that it is very important to pay attention to the manifestations of hyper-anxiety and to some distinct signs of perfectionism, in particular, to doubts about actions taken, concerns about mistakes and parental criticism.

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