The study, carried out by researchers at Birmingham University in Alabama in the US, and published in the Springer's journal of Cognitive Research and Therapy found that Repetitive Negative Thinking (RNT) can be linked to late bedtimes and lack of sleep.
Springer reports that researchers studied 100 people, recording their sleeping habits and whether they were "morning" or "evening" people, and whether they "worry, ruminate or obsess" during the day - all of which are signs of Repetitive Negative Thinking, a clinical term for bad thoughts that can become intrusive into daily life.
They found that those habitually who go to bed later - from midnight to 5am - are more likely to experience negative thoughts and obsessive behaviour, such as worrying.
Jacob Nota, who carried out the study along with Meredith Coles, said "Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disseminable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts."
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The findings also show that continued disturbed sleep can develop negative thinking - so if you are getting into a habit of staying up late, it can become a vicious cycle of staying up, followed by a day of worrying which will keep you up later.
The researchers were building on former work linking the effects of a lack of sleep on brain function, and concluded that sleep is key to maintaining a healthy thinking pattern. "If further findings support the relation between sleep timing and repetitive negative thinking, this could one day lead to a new avenue for treatment of individuals with internalising disorders", said Coles.
Words: Victoria Gray, Images: Rex Features