The present study was designed to investigate the role of beliefs about the utility of presleep worry in the context of insomnia. The Utility of Presleep Worry Questionnaire (UPWQ) was administered to individuals with insomnia (n = 31) and good sleepers (n = 31). The UPWQ comprised 36 positive belief statements and 24 negative belief statements. Patients with insomnia endorsed more positive belief statements compared to the good sleepers. The insomnia group exhibited a larger discrepancy between their expectation of what can be achieved by worrying in bed and what is actually achieved by worrying in bed compared to the good sleeper group. The number of negative belief statements endorsed was not different between the insomnia and good sleeper groups. For the insomnia group, measures of sleep disturbance were correlated with positive beliefs (r = .49) about the utility of presleep worry but were not correlated with negative beliefs. Holding both positive and negative beliefs about the utility of presleep worry was associated with higher scores on general psychopathology measures. The results of the present study suggest that positive beliefs about the benefits of worrying during the presleep period are characteristic of insomnia and may serve to maintain the disorder.
This is a preview of subscription content, access via your institution.
Buy single article
Instant access to the full article PDF.
Price excludes VAT (USA)
Tax calculation will be finalised during checkout.
American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Diagnostic and statistical manual of mental disorders (4th ed.). Washington, DC: Author
Beck, A. T., & Emery, G. (1985). Anxiety disorders and phobias: A cognitive perspective.New York: Basic Books.
Beck, A. R., Epstein, N., Brown, G., & Steer, R. A. (1988). An inventory for measuring clinical anxiety: Psychometric properties. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 56, 893-897.
Beck, A. T., Ward, C. H., Mendelson, M., Mock, J., & Erbaugh, J. (1961). An inventory measuring depression. Archives of General Psychiatry, 4, 561-571.
Borkovec, T. D. (1994). The nature, function, and origins of worry. In G. C. L. Davey & F. Tallis (Eds.), Worrying: Perspectives on theory, assessment and treatment, (pp. 5-33). Chichester, England: Wiley.
Borkovec, T. D., Ray, W. J., & Stober, J. (1998). Worry: A cognitive phenomenon intimately linked to affective, physiological, and interpersonal behavioral processes. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 22, 561-576.
Borkovec, T. D., Robinson, E., Pruzinsky, T., & De Pree, J. A. (1983). Preliminary exploration of worry: Some characteristics and processes. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 21, 9-16.
Borkovec, T. D., & Roemer, L. (1995). Perceived functions of worry among generalized anxiety disorder subjects: Distraction from more emotionally distressing topics. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 26, 25-30.
Butler, G. (1994). Treatment of worry in generalised anxiety disorder. In G. C. L. Davey & F. Tallis (Eds.), Worrying: Perspectives on theory, assessment and treatment(pp. 209-228). Chichester, England: Wiley.
Cartwright-Hatton, S., & Wells, A. (1997). Beliefs about worry and intrusions: The meta-cognitions questionnaire and its correlates. Journal of Anxiety Disorders, 11, 279-296.
Craske, M., Rapee, R., Jackel, L., & Barlow, D. (1989). Qualitative dimensions of worry in DSM-III-R generalised anxiety disorder subjects and nonanxious controls. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 27, 397-402.
Davey, G. C. L. (1993). A comparison of three worry questionnaires. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 31, 51-56.
Davey, G. C. L., Hampton, J., Farrell, J., & Davidson, S. (1992). Some characteristics of worrying: Evidence for worrying and anxiety as separate constructs. Personality and Individual Differences, 13, 133-147.
Davey, G. C. L., Tallis, F., & Capuzzo, N. (1996). Beliefs about the consequences of worrying. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 20, 499-520.
Espie, C. A. (1991). The psychological treatment of insomnia. Chichester, England: Wiley.
Espie, C. A., Brooks, D. N., & Lindsay, W. R. (1989). An evaluation of tailored psychological treatment of insomnia. Journal of Behaviour Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry, 20, 143-153.
Espie, C. A., & Wicklow, A. (in press). Cognitive therapy for insomnia. In C. Shapiro & E. P. Sloan (Eds.), Sleep in psychiatry. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.
Freeston, M. H., Rheaume, J., Letarte, H., Dugas, M. J., & Ladouceur, R. (1994). Why do people worry? Personality and Individual Differences, 17, 791-802.
Harvey, A. G. (2000). Pre-sleep cognitive activity in insomnia: A comparison of sleep-onset insomniacs and good sleepers. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 38, 401-405.
Harvey, A. G. (2002). A cognitive model of insomnia. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 40, 869-893.
Kales, A., Caldwell, A. B., Soldatos, C. R., Bixler, E. O., & Kales, J. D. (1983). Biopsychobehavioural correlates of insomnia II: Pattern specificity and consistency with the MMPI. Pattern specificity and consistency with the MMPI. Psychosomatic Medicine, 45, 341-356.
Kales, A., & Kales, J. D. (1984). Evaluation and treatment of insomnia. New York: Oxford University Press.
Lichstein, K. L., & Rosenthal, T. L. (1980). Insomniacs' perceptions of cognitive versus somatic determinants of sleep disturbance. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 89, 105-107.
Meyer, T., Miller, M., Metzger, R., & Borkovec, T. D. (1990). Development and validation of the Penn State Worry Questionnaire. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 28, 487-495.
Morin, C. M. (1993). Insomnia: Psychological assessment and management. New York: Guildford Press.
Morin, C. M., Savard, J., & Blais, F. C. (2000). Cognitive therapy. In K. L. Lichstein & C. M. Morin (Eds.), Treatment of late-life insomnia(pp. 207-230). Beverley Hills, CA: Sage.
Tallis, F., Davey, G. C. L., & Capuzzo, N. (1994). The phenomenology of non-pathological worry: A preliminary investigation. In G. Davey & F. Tallis (Eds.), Worrying: Perspectives on theory, assessment and treatment(pp. 61-90). New York: Wiley.
Waters, W. F., Adams, S. G., Binks, P., & Varnado, P. (1993). Attention, stress and negative emotion in persistent sleep-onset and sleep-maintenance insomnia. Sleep, 16, 128-136.
Watts, F. N., Coyle, K., & East, M. P. (1994). The contribution of worry to insomnia. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 33, 211-220.
Wells, A. (1994). Attention and the control of worry. In G. C. L. Davey & F. Tallis (Eds.), Worrying: Perspectives on theory, assessment and treatment. Chichester, England: Wiley.
Wells, A. (1995). Meta-cognition and worry: A cognitive model of generalise anxiety disorder. Behavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy, 23, 301-320.
Wicklow, A., & Espie, C. A. (2000). Intrusive thoughts and their relationship to actigraphic measurement of sleep: Towards a cognitive model of insomnia. Behaviour Research and Therapy, 38, 679-694.
Rights and permissions
About this article
Cite this article
Harvey, A.G. Beliefs About the Utility of Presleep Worry: An Investigation of Individuals with Insomnia and Good Sleepers. Cognitive Therapy and Research 27, 403–414 (2003). https://doi.org/10.1023/A:1025420429735