Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



First Advisor

William F. Waters


The sleep of high anxiety/worry and low anxiety/worry subjects was studied by means of nocturnal polysomnography. Fifteen high anxiety adult subjects were chosen to represent an analog Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) population, and were selected from among individuals scoring within the upper 20th percentile on the trait portion of the State-Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI) and the Penn State Worry Questionnaire (PSWQ). Fifteen low anxiety subjects were selected from among individuals scoring within the lower 50th percentile on those measures, and were matched with high anxiety subjects for age, sex, race, and Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) scores. Analysis of polysomnography variables revealed that high anxiety subjects took longer to fall asleep, had a smaller percentage of deep (slow-wave) sleep, and a larger percentage of light transitional sleep (stage 1 NREM). High anxiety subjects also had more stage 1 NREM periods, more micro-arousals during the first half of the sleep period, and a lower REM density relative to low anxiety subjects. In addition, high anxiety subjects had more electrodermal storming when SWS and REM sleep variables were co-varied. Results indicated that the pattern of disruption of sleep depth and continuity was very similar to that documented in clinical anxiety disorder patients, and was distinct from that typically shown in depressed patients. A major implication is that anxiety and worry are associated with disrupted sleep, independent of whether or not a diagnosed anxiety disorder is present. Current results indicate that these factors are associated with the sleep disruption observed in anxiety disorders, independent of the presence of panic, previous exposure to trauma, or a disease process per se.