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20-08-2019 | ORIGINAL PAPER | Uitgave 11/2019 Open Access

Mindfulness 11/2019

Pre-sleep Cognitive Arousal Decreases Following a 4-Week Introductory Mindfulness Course

Mindfulness > Uitgave 11/2019
Zuriel Hassirim, Eric C. J. Lim, June C. Lo, Julian Lim
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The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1007/​s12671-019-01217-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.

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Mindfulness-based training has shown potential in reducing anxious and ruminative thoughts before sleep, and improving sleep quality. A majority of experiments on this topic have studied Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction, or related 8-week programs. In this study, we measured the effects of a 4-week Mindfulness Foundation course on sleep quality assessed via subjective report and actigraphic recording.


Ninety-six participants were recruited from a pool of Mindfulness Foundation course attendees and studied in a waitlist-control design.


Although sleep complaints were not an inclusion criterion for this study, sleep quality was poor in the sample as a whole at baseline. We found that sleep quality improved in both groups across the study period (ηp2 = 0.22), with no statistical difference between groups. In contrast, pre-sleep cognitive arousal was significantly reduced in the treatment, but not the waitlist group (ηp2 = 0.058). Exploratory analysis revealed that reductions in cognitive arousal were correlated with improvements in sleep quality in the treatment group, but not the waitlist group. In the actigraphy data, a small but statistically significant interaction favoring the treatment group was found in the amount of time spent awake during the night (i.e., wake after sleep onset) (ηp2 = 0.070).


Overall, our data demonstrate that some of the benefits to sleep commonly seen over 8 weeks of mindfulness practice can also be observed over a shorter intervention period, and add to the growing body of evidence that mindfulness can help those with poor sleep quality.

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