The association between emotional dysregulation and REM sleep features in insomnia disorder

Andrea Galbiati, Marco Sforza, Elisabetta Fasiello, Francesca Casoni, Nadia Marrella, Caterina Leitner, Marco Zucconi, Luigi Ferini-Strambi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rapid Eye Movement (REM) sleep is involved in nightly emotional processing; therefore, its disruption might be associated with an impaired ability of emotional regulation during daytime. Accordingly, the aim of the present study was to evaluate the presence of emotional dysregulation in insomnia patients and to test its correlation with REM sleep features. Forty-six subjects (23 insomnia patients and 23 healthy controls) were enrolled. All subjects underwent an assessment for the evaluation of emotion dysregulation (Difficulties in Emotion Regulation Scale, DERS), sleep quality, insomnia severity, excessive daytime sleepiness, worry, rumination, depressive and anxious symptomatology. Insomnia patients underwent a nocturnal polysomnographic recording to characterize sleep macrostructure and REM sleep microstructure variables. Insomnia patients reported increased values of emotional dysregulation. REM sleep percentage and REM sleep latency significantly correlated with DERS total score, and with the subscales “Lack of Confidence in Emotional Regulation Skills”, “Difficulties in Behavioral Control” and “Difficulty in recognizing emotions”. Furthermore, positive correlations between REM arousal index and emotion dysregulation were found, whereas REM density negatively correlated with DERS. Our results suggest the presence of a relationship between REM sleep and emotional regulation in insomnia patients.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105642
JournalBrain and Cognition
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2020


  • Emotional dysregulation
  • Hyperarousal
  • Insomnia
  • Polysomnography
  • REM sleep

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuropsychology and Physiological Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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