2016 IOCDF Grant

Sleep and circadian disturbances as a vulnerability for OCD

Kiara Timpano, PhD

University of Miami (Miami, FL)

Award Amount: $45,989

Sleep and circadian rhythms (internal regulators of sleep cycles) are crucial for mental health, and disorders such as insomnia have immensely negative consequences on daily functioning and wellbeing. Studies by Dr. Timpano’s team and other researchers suggest a connection between OCD and insomnia and delayed sleep, which requires further research.

This study by Dr. Timpano and her team aimed to answer key questions regarding sleep and address important limitations of past research. With a sample of 22 participants with OCD, 20 with hoarding disorder (HD), 13 with mild symptoms of either, 10 with both OCD and HD, and 43 healthy controls, the team examined sleep and circadian disturbances in relation to OCD and HD through questionnaires, self-reported sleep diaries, and measuring sleep patterns using actigraphs (sleep trackers worn on the wrist). The results showed that higher severity of OCD and HD was associated with greater insomnia and poorer sleep quality. Additionally, HD and OCD symptoms were associated with self-reported poor sleep and difficulty quieting the mind. Finally, higher OCD severity was associated with going to sleep and waking up later; higher HD severity was associated with more variation in sleep and circadian rhythm.