Trying to fall asleep while catastrophising: What sleep-disordered adolescents think and feel

Rachel Hiller, Nicole Lovato, Michael Gradisar, Michael Oliver, Amy Slater

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    54 Citations (Scopus)


    Objective: Catastrophising is a repetitive cognitive process related to sleep disturbance in adult insomnia patients. More recently catastrophising has been associated with increased sleep disturbances in community samples of children and adolescents, with this association mediated by anxiety and depression. However, there currently is no evidence of these processes outside of community samples; impeding our ability to draw clinical conclusions. Knowledge on such dysfunctional cognitive processes in adolescents experiencing sleep disturbance would be clinically beneficial in aetiology and intervention. Our research examined the link between catastrophising, anxiety, depression and sleep latency in a sample of sleep-disordered adolescents. We also explored specific catastrophising themes which may impact the sleep latency of these adolescents. Method: Forty adolescents (age = 15.1. ± 1.5. years, 53% boys) diagnosed with delayed sleep phase disorder completed a 7-day sleep diary, along with measures of anxiety and depression and a catastrophising interview with a trained sleep therapist. Results: Several catastrophisation themes were generated, the most common concerning interpersonal and performance aspects of school. Bootstrapping analyses showed depression did not mediate the relationship between catastrophising and sleep; however, an indirect relationship was found between catastrophising, anticipatory anxiety, and sleep latency. Conclusion: These findings have implications for the role of dysfunctional thinking in prolonging sleep onset for adolescents and providing a clinical framework for health professionals when assessing and treating adolescents with delayed sleep timing.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)96-103
    Number of pages8
    JournalSleep Medicine
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


    • Adolescents
    • Catastrophising
    • Delayed sleep phase disorder
    • Depression
    • Sleep
    • Sleep anticipatory anxiety


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