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Tired and lack focus? Insomnia increases distractibility.

Authors
  • Miller, Christopher B1
  • Robertson, David J2
  • Johnson, Keith A1, 3
  • Lovato, Nicole4, 5
  • Bartlett, Delwyn J1, 3, 5
  • Grunstein, Ronald R1, 3, 5, 6
  • Gordon, Christopher J1, 5, 7
  • 1 CIRUS, Centre for Sleep and Chronobiology, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 2 School of Psychological Sciences and Health, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, UK.
  • 3 Faculty of Medicine and Health, Central Clinical School, The University of Sydney, Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 4 Adelaide Institute for Sleep Health, A Flinders Centre of Research Excellence, Flinders University of South Australia. , (Australia)
  • 5 CRC for Alertness, Safety and Productivity, Melbourne, VIC, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 6 Department of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
  • 7 Faculty of Medicine and Health, Susan Wakil School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sydney, NSW, Australia. , (Australia)
Type
Published Article
Journal
Journal of health psychology
Publication Date
May 01, 2021
Volume
26
Issue
6
Pages
795–804
Identifiers
DOI: 10.1177/1359105319842927
PMID: 31007074
Source
Medline
Keywords
Language
English
License
Unknown

Abstract

Chronic insomnia is associated with subjective daytime cognitive dysfunction, but objective corroborative data are often lacking. In this study, we use Perceptual Load Theory to objectively assess distractibility in participants with insomnia (N = 23) compared with age- and sex-matched controls (N = 23). Following overnight supervised sleep observation, all participants completed a selective attention task which varied in the level of perceptual load and distractor congruency. The insomnia group was found to be more distracted than controls, whereas their selective attention mechanism appeared to be intact, with reduced distractor processing under high load for both groups. Insomnia symptom severity was positively correlated with participant distractibility. These findings suggest that there are insomnia-related daytime cognitive impairments that are likely to arise from compromised cognitive control rather than an ineffective selective attention mechanism. This task may be clinically useful in assessing daytime impairments, and potentially treatment response, in those with insomnia.

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