Emotional processing and arousal level following a daytime sleep opportunity among youths with anxiety disorder(s)

M.L. WONG, Esther Yuet Ying LAU, B. RUSAK, K.F. CHUNG, N.T. LAU, S. LAM

Research output: Contribution to conferencePapers


Introduction: Sleep and emotional processing is increasingly tested among non‐clinical populations, we here investigate the effect of a daytime sleep opportunity on individuals with anxiety disorder.

Methods: 30 youths (aged 17–23 years, 47% assessed by structured clinical interview to have an anxiety disorder) completed a modified reading the mind in the eyes test (eyes‐test) at 1,300 (Test 1) and 1,730 (Test 2), and were given a 90‐min daytime sleep opportunity monitored by polysomnography. In the eyes‐test, participants were to rate the affective valence and arousal level of the presenting stimuli, human‐eyes on a visual analogue scale. Performance change was assessed by subtracting Test 2 rating on valence and arousal from Test 1, a positive difference indicated inclination towards less positive/aroused across sessions.

Results: The two groups were not significantly different on demographic features or habitual sleep measured by actigraphy. The factorial model with one between‐group (anxiety/control) and one within‐group (test session) factor showed a significant interaction effect on valence for positive (F1,28 = 5.964, p = 0.021, η2 = 0.176) and negative (F1,28 = 4,810, p = 0.037, η2 = 0.147) but not neutral eyes (p = 0.777). There was also a significant interaction effect on arousal for negative (F1,28 = 5.545, p = 0.026, η2 = 0.165) but not positive or neutral eyes (ps > 0.05). Follow‐up analyses showed that while the control group's valence rating on positive (p = 0.017) and negative eyes (p = 0.008) were inclining more towards neutral valence and arousal (p = 0.019) decreasing across sessions, the anxiety group show similar rating on these variables across session (ps > 0.05). Changes on valence rating on positive eyes were correlated with REM (r = −0.444, p = 0.017), changes on arousal rating on negative eyes were correlated with N1 (r = 0.478, p = 0.008) among all participants, while changes of valence rating on negative eyes were correlated with N2 (r = 0.700, p = 0.005), and SWS (r = −0.599, p = 0.024) only in the anxiety group but not the control (ps > 0.05).

Discussions: Our data showed different change pattern of emotional appraisal and arousal in youths with or without anxiety disorders, with initial findings showing the potential correlation with specific sleep stages. The implication will be further discussed.

This study was funded by the General Research Fund (#18619616), Research Grant Council, HKSAR. Copyright © 2018 Sleep DownUnder.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2018


Wong, M. L., Lau, E. Y. Y., Rusak, B., Chung, K. F., Lau, N. T., & Lam, S. (2018, October). Emotional processing and arousal level following a daytime sleep opportunity among youths with anxiety disorder(s). Paper presented at Sleep DownUnder 2018: 30th ASM of Australasian Sleep Association and the Australasian Sleep Technologists Association, Brisbane, Australia.


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