Time will tell: a retrospective study investigating the relationship between insomnia and objectively defined punctuality

Authors


Kai Spiegelhalder MD, PhD, University of Freiburg Medical Center, Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Hauptstraβe 5, 79104 Freiburg, Germany. Tel: +49-761-270-65890; fax: +49-761-270-66190; e-mail: Kai.Spiegelhalder@uniklinik-freiburg.de

Summary

Primary insomnia is a prevalent sleep disorder affecting approximately 3% of the general population. Studies suggest that personality traits such as perfectionism and neuroticism might be implicated in the aetiology of the disorder. However, to date, no study has investigated behavioural indicators of these factors in a hypothesis-driven manner. In the present study, we assessed punctuality as a behavioural indicator of perfectionism and neuroticism in 635 consecutive clinical patients of the sleep laboratory of the Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University of Freiburg Medical Center. The primary aim was to compare primary insomnia patients (= 148) with another group of patients with other sleep-related diagnoses (= 487). Primary insomnia patients arrived on average 4 min earlier when compared to other patients (= 0.041). However, this effect failed to reach statistical significance when correcting for the influence of potential confounding variables. Of note, we found a strong relationship between polysomnographic sleep parameters and punctuality. That is, short sleep duration was associated significantly with early arrival times at the sleep laboratory (= 0.023). These findings support the proposal that personality traits, which we predict underlie obsessive punctuality, may be involved in the aetiology of objectively defined sleep disturbances. Clinical implications of the current results for cognitive behavioural treatments of insomnia are discussed.

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