Background: Obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) is characterized by intrusive thoughts and repetitive behaviors that severely encumber daily functioning. OCD patients seem to exhibit sleep disturbances, especially delayed bedtimes that reflect disrupted circadian rhythmicity. Morningness–eveningness is a fundamental factor reflecting individual variations in diurnal preferences related to sleep and waking activities. Eveningness reflecting a delayed sleep–wake timing has repeatedly been associated with sleep problems and negative affect (NA). Therefore, the aim of this study was to examine the associations between morningness–eveningness, sleep complaints, and symptom severity in OCD patients and compared with a mixed psychiatric control group.
Materials and methods: The data of 49 OCD and 49 mixed psychiatric inpatients (with unipolar depression and anxiety disorders) were analyzed. Patients completed questionnaires regarding morningness–eveningness, sleep quality, nightmare frequency, depression, anxiety, and affective states. Obsessive and compulsive symptom severity was also assessed within the OCD group by clinician-rated scales.
Results: Eveningness preference was associated with impaired sleep quality and higher NA in OCD patients. In addition, impaired sleep quality showed a moderate correlation with anxiety and strong correlations with depressive symptoms and NA. Interestingly, in the mixed psychiatric group, eveningness was not linked to NA, and sleep quality also showed weaker associations with depressive symptoms and NA. Within the OCD group, eveningness preference was predictive of poorer sleep quality regardless the influence of depressive symptoms.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that eveningness and sleep complaints are predictive of affective dysfunctions, and should be carefully considered in the evaluation and treatment of OCD patients.