Nighttime thought control strategies and insomnia severity

Les A. Gellis, Aesoon Park

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

21 Scopus citations


Strategies used to control unwanted thoughts during the evening have been shown to be significantly associated with insomnia, a common problem associated with numerous negative consequences. This study examined whether nighttime thought control strategies would predict insomnia severity among 460 college students (mean age = 18.8, 61% female, and 72% Caucasian) after accounting for well-established risk factors for the disorder such as anxiety, depression, sleep hygiene, and nighttime pain. The Insomnia Severity Index was used to measure insomnia severity and the Thought Control Questionnaire Insomnia-Revised was used to measure nighttime thought management strategies. Results from a hierarchical multiple linear regression showed that the strategy of cognitive distraction (attempts to withdraw from unwanted thoughts or think about more pleasant content) was negatively associated with insomnia severity and the strategy of aggressive suppression (the use of critical and punishing self thought) was positively associated with insomnia severity after accounting for other risk factors. These findings add to the growing literature highlighting arousing pre-sleep cognitions as a correlate of insomnia. These findings also add to emerging literature showing the ability to cognitively distract from the arousing thought as a correlate of good sleep.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)383-389
Number of pages7
JournalCognitive Therapy and Research
Issue number2
StatePublished - Apr 2013


  • Cognitions
  • Insomnia
  • Sleep
  • Thought management

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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