Why Might Poor Sleep Quality Lead to Depression? A Role for Emotion Regulation

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Major depression, emotion regulation, sleep quality, sleep, physical activity

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Disordered sleep is strongly linked to future depression, but the reasons for this link are not well understood. This study tested one possibility – that poorer sleep impairs emotion regulation (ER), which over time leads to increased depressive symptoms. Our sample contained individuals with a wide range of depression symptoms (current depression, N = 54, remitted depression, N = 36, and healthy control, N = 53), who were followed clinically over six months and reassessed for changes in depressive symptom levels. As predicted, maladaptive ER mediated both cross-sectional and prospective relationships between poor sleep quality and depression symptoms. In contrast, an alternative mediator, physical activity levels, did not mediate the link between sleep quality and depression symptoms. Maladaptive ER may help explain why sleep difficulties contribute to depression symptoms; implications for interventions are discussed.

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Cognition and Emotion, v. 31, issue 8, p. 1698-1706