This research examined the role of cognitive factors (attributions about the causes of sleep difficulties and presleep cognitive activity) in sleep-onset insomnia. Thirty-four subjects, including 13 mild to extreme insomniacs, were interviewed and then spent 5 consecutive nights in a sleep laboratory. In a multiple regression paradigm predictor measures included attribution ratings of sleep difficulty, perceived control of presleep cognitions, presleep cognitive content, and affect associated with presleep cognitions. Criterion measures included laboratory measured objectives and subjective sleep-onset latency, a score presenting the difference between objective and subjective laboratory measures of sleep-onset latency, interview-measured subjective sleep-onset latency, and degree of overall concern and presleep concern about initiating sleep. The results of multiple regression analyses suggested that the content of presleep cognitions and the attributions of sleep difficulties were significantly associated with several subjective measures of sleep-onset latency or concern with initiating sleep. None of the predictor measures was significantly associated with objectively measured sleep-onset latency. Implications for cognitive theories of sleep-onset insomnia and for the psychophysiologic-subjective dimension of insomnia are discussed.
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The authors would like to express their appreciation for the assistance provided by Wade Horn, Linda Gannon, Paula Heiser, Sarah Dickson, Kathy Kyndberg, A. E. Adams, IV, and Bill Hoffman.