Executive Dysfunction and Emotion Dysregulation Explain the Effects of Insomnia Symptoms on Repetitive Negative Thinking

  • Rebecca C. CoxEmail author
  • Sarah C. Jessup
  • Bunmi O. Olatunji
Original Article


Although research has linked insomnia symptoms to repetitive negative thinking (RNT), few studies have examined how insomnia symptoms are associated with RNT over time or specific factors that may account for this relationship. The present study addressed this gap in the literature by examining executive function and emotion regulation as mediators of the relationship between insomnia symptoms and RNT over 3 months. A final sample of 357 unselected community participants completed measures of insomnia symptoms and RNT at time 1, executive function 1 month later (time 2), emotion regulation 2 months later (time 3), and RNT again 3 months later (time 4). Results revealed that insomnia symptoms were associated with increased RNT over 3 months through an indirect effect of executive function on emotion regulation. An alternate model in which emotion regulation at time 2 and executive function at time 3 mediated the effect of insomnia symptoms on RNT was also significant; however, the effect size was relatively reduced. These findings implicate executive function and emotion regulation as factors that may explain the role of insomnia symptoms in the development of RNT observed in many psychiatric disorders.


Insomnia Sleep Repetitive thinking Executive function Emotion regulation 



The authors would like to thank Dylan Ashbach and Hunter Savage for their help with manuscript preparation.


This research did not receive any specific grant from funding agencies in the public, commercial, or not-for-profit sectors.

Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

Rebecca C. Cox, Sarah C. Jessup, and Bunmi O. Olatunji declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Informed Consent

All procedures in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional review board, and informed consent was obtained from all individual subjects who participated in the study.

Animal Rights

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

Supplementary material

10608_2019_10033_MOESM1_ESM.docx (105 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 105 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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