2021 Jenike Young Investigator Award

Waxing and waning: Using ecological momentary assessment to assess chronotype as a potential mechanism of within-day obsessive-compulsive disorder symptom fluctuations

Hadar Naftalovich, MA

Hebrew University of Jerusalem (Jerusalem, Israel)

Award Amount: $44,500

Prior research has suggested links between a person’s sleep habits, their biological clock (circadian rhythm), and OCD symptoms. Many people with OCD report that their symptoms are better or worse at certain times of day, and that they may struggle more with their OCD when they are tired. However, each person has a unique circadian rhythm (“chronotype”)  that influences when they feel most alert; “morning people” feel energized early in the day, “night owls” feel energized at night, and others fall in between.

Ms. Naftalovich and her team are examining the links between chronotypes, levels of alertness, and OCD symptoms by closely tracking these factors and sleep patterns in a group of participants for a period of seven days. The goal is to gain a better understanding of how and why OCD symptoms fluctuate throughout the day, and to give people with OCD additional tools and information to understand when their symptoms may be the easiest or most difficult to control. Findings could provide clues about how treatments that influence alertness and circadian rhythm (like light therapy) could be combined with existing forms of OCD treatment to better serve patients.