Health & Spirit

Haunted by negative thoughts? It may be a sleep problem

By Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. on

In a popular 2017 "SNL" skit, Ryan Gosling plays a weirdly troubled man. "I thought it was behind me, but the dreams came back," he narrates. "I was up all night. I can't eat. I can't sleep ... I forgot about it for years, but then I remembered that 'Avatar,' the giant international blockbuster, used the Papyrus font as its logo. [The graphic artist] just highlighted 'Avatar,' he clicked the dropdown menu, and then he just randomly selected Papyrus."

Chances are when you fixate on a negative thought or image -- no matter how trivial -- it may be because you aren't sleeping long or well enough. That's the conclusion of researchers in a new study published in the Journal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry. They found that people who had a harder time falling asleep and poorer quality sleep were more likely to fixate on negative, intrusive thoughts and be drawn to negative images. It can happen during the day and when trying to fall asleep (vicious cycle). And that inability to move on from negative images and thoughts also makes them vulnerable to anxiety and depression.

If this sounds familiar, treatment for sleep disorders (not just knockout pills!) and for emotional challenges can work together to improve your mood and your overall health. And since depression, anxiety and lack of sleep are associated with increased risk of certain cancers, heart woes, obesity and relationship problems, take these steps: Check out the "Sleep" topic at And find a therapist at


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Mehmet Oz, M.D. is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D. is Chief Wellness Officer and Chair of Wellness Institute at Cleveland Clinic. To live your healthiest, tune into "The Dr. Oz Show" or visit

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D.

Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.

(c) 2018 Michael Roizen, M.D. and Mehmet Oz, M.D. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.


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