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Catastrophizing is present in worriers and poor sleepers. This study investigates whether poor sleepers possess a 'perseverative iterative style' which predisposes them to catastrophize any topic, regardless of content or affective valence, a style previously found to occur more commonly in worriers as compared to others. Poor (n=23) and good sleepers (n=37) were distinguished using the Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), from a sample of adults in the general population. Participants were required to catastrophize 2 topics: worries about sleep, and a current personal worry; and to iterate the positive aspects of a hypothetical topic. Poor sleepers catastrophized/iterated more steps to a greater extent than good sleepers to these three interviews, (F(1, 58)=7.35, p<.05). However, after controlling for anxiety and worry, this effect was reduced to non-significance for the 'sleep' and 'worry' topics, suggesting that anxiety may mediate some of the association between catastrophizing and sleep. However there was still a tendency for poor sleepers to iterate more steps to the 'hypothetical' topic, after controlling for anxiety and worry, which also suggests that poor sleepers possess a cognitive style which may predispose them to continue iterating consecutive steps to open-ended tasks regardless of anxiety and worry. Future research should examine whether the presence of this cognitive style is significant in leading to or maintaining insomnia.

Original publication




Journal article


J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry

Publication Date





18 - 23


Adult, Aged, Analysis of Variance, Anxiety, Chi-Square Distribution, Female, Humans, Interviews as Topic, Male, Middle Aged, Personality Assessment, Psychiatric Status Rating Scales, Reference Values, Self Concept, Severity of Illness Index, Sleep Wake Disorders, Statistics as Topic, Surveys and Questionnaires, Young Adult