Circadian Rhythms in Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder: Recent Findings and Recommendations for Future Research

  • Rebecca C. CoxEmail author
  • Bunmi O. Olatunji
Sleep Disorders (P Gehrman, Section Editor)
Part of the following topical collections:
  1. Topical Collection on Sleep Disorders


Purpose of Review

Circadian rhythms are a topic of growing interest in mental health, particularly in obsessive-compulsive disorder. However, the consistency of this link has not been carefully examined. Thus, the present review integrates findings from the past 5 years in order to determine the strength of such a relationship and identify areas for clarification and extension.

Recent Findings

Findings revealed inconsistent evidence for a link between circadian rhythms and OCD. Chronotype is unrelated to OCD symptoms in adolescents but predicts OCD symptoms in adults. Results on delayed sleep timing are equivocal. Circadian rhythm disorders predict OCD treatment outcome. Preliminary evidence implicates decreased light exposure and diurnal symptom variability in OCD.


The relationship between circadian rhythms and OCD may vary by age, diagnostic status, and assessment method. Recent findings are limited by an overreliance on convenience samples and singular self-report methods. Recommendations for future research on the role of circadian rhythms in OCD are discussed.


Obsessive-compulsive disorder OCD Circadian rhythms Chronotype Eveningness Sleep timing 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Human and Animal Rights and Informed Consent

This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.


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

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PsychologyVanderbilt UniversityNashvilleUSA

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