The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) defines obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) as a chronic mental health disorder in which an individual experiences uncontrollable, reoccurring obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior. A person affected by this disorder does things compulsively as he/she is unable to control his/her thoughts and behavior. According to the NIMH, approximately 1 percent of the U.S. adult population has a 12-month prevalence of developing OCD, of which about 51 percent cases are classified as severe.
While the condition is known to affect individuals who are genetically predisposed, have altered brain structure and functioning, or have faced trauma, a recent study, conducted by the researchers from Binghamton University, State University of New York and published in the journal Sleep, revealed that it is hard for people, who sleep late at night, to manage their symptoms of OCD the next day.
Relationship between previous night’s bedtime and OCD symptoms
The research was based on the sleep analysis of 20 individuals diagnosed with OCD and 10 individuals showing symptoms of OCD. The participants were asked to fill in their sleep journals for a week, rating the degree of control they felt they had over their obsessive thoughts and ritualized behaviors the subsequent day. The researchers found that the control that an individual had over his/her obsessive thoughts and compulsive behavior was dependent on the time he/she slept the previous night. Though, on an average, the study participants went to bed at around 12:30 in the morning, 40 percent of them hit the bed at around 3 a.m.
Jessica Schubert with the University of Michigan Medical School, and a graduate of Binghamton University, said that the research team was very keen to understand the ways in which this kind of unusual sleep timing affected cognitive functioning. She added, “One possibility is impulse control. It might be that something about shifting the timing of your sleep might reduce your ability to control your thoughts and your behaviors, so it might make it more likely that you’re going to have a hard time dismissing intrusive thoughts, characteristic of obsessions, and it might make it more difficult for you to refrain from compulsive behaviors that are designed to reduce the anxiety caused by obsessive thoughts.”
Further research needed
Meredith E. Coles, Professor of Psychology at the Binghamton University expressed surprise at the study findings when she said, that though she knew that an individual needed eight hours of sleep a day, she did not know that when he/she slept could also affect the person’s health. “There are specific negative consequences of sleeping at the wrong times, that’s something to educate the public about,” she said.
The researchers feel that further investigation into the relationship between the time a person sleeps and control over OCD symptoms is warranted. To continue their research, they plan to collect pilot data using lightboxes to shift people’s bedtimes and check if it actually reduces their OCD symptoms.
Treatment for OCD is possible
OCD is generally treated with medicines such as serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SRIs) and selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), psychotherapies including cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) and exposure and response prevention (EX/RP), or a combination of both, however, the most suitable treatment course can only be decided by a medical expert.
If you or a loved one is suffering from OCD, and would like to consult a mental health expert for OCD treatment in Los Angeles, Sovereign Health can help. Call our 24/7 helpline number 866-973-7164 or chat online with one of our experts to know about the best OCD treatment centers in Los Angeles and other parts of the U.S.