Cognitive Therapy and Research

, Volume 41, Issue 6, pp 842–852 | Cite as

Insomnia Symptom Severity Modulates The Impact of Sleep Deprivation on Attentional Biases to Emotional Information

  • Ivan VargasEmail author
  • Christopher L. Drake
  • Nestor L. Lopez-Duran
Original Article


The present study evaluated the effect of experimental sleep deprivation on attentional biases to emotional information among a sample of 40 healthy, young adults. Participants were randomized into either a total sleep deprivation (i.e., 28 consecutive hours awake) or sleep control (i.e., 8-h sleep opportunity) condition. Participants also completed a modified version of the Dot Probe Task to assess attentional biases to positive and negative information and the insomnia severity index (ISI) to assess current insomnia symptom severity. While controlling for ISI scores, acute sleep deprivation was not associated with a greater bias to negative stimuli. In contrast, sleep deprivation predicted a significantly reduced bias to positive stimuli, but only among participants with relative low ISI scores. The present findings suggest that young adults with low levels of insomnia symptoms are particularly susceptible to the effects of sleep deprivation; such that acute sleep loss can reduce their natural tendencies to attend to positive information in the environment.


Sleep deprivation Attentional bias Insomnia Cognition 



The authors would like to thank the Michigan Psychoneuroendocrinology Affective Laboratory staff, particularly Andrew Garton, Rebecca Mulder, Tonia Ballantyne, Lara Fawaz, Allie Hammond, and Rachel Cannon who assisted in data collection. Christopher Drake has received research support from Merck, Jazz, Aladdin Dreamer, Actelion, Pernix, Eisai, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Christopher Drake has received a speaker honorarium from Merck.


Funding for this research was provided by the University of Michigan Department of Psychology, University of Michigan Rackham Graduate School, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan Foundation, and the American Psychological Association of Graduate Students. All grants were awarded to IV. The funding source had no role in the study design, data collection, analyses, or manuscript preparation.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Ivan Vargas and Nestor Lopez-Duran declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

The present study was in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.

Animal Rights

No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Behavioral Sleep Medicine Program, Department of PsychiatryUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  2. 2.Center for Sleep and Circadian NeurobiologyUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Sleep Disorders and Research CenterHenry Ford HospitalDetroitUSA
  4. 4.Department of PsychologyUniversity of MichiganAnn ArborUSA

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