Homogeneity of cognitive and behavioural processes underlying the relationship between insomnia and body image disturbance

Umair Akram*, Sarah F. Allen, Jodie C. Stevenson, Lambros Lazuras, Millicent Ackroyd, Jessica Chester, Jessica Longden, Chloe Peters, Kamila R. Irvine

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)
23 Downloads (Pure)


Specific cognitive behavioural mechanisms related to selective attention, situational avoidance and physical appearance are implicated in the development and maintenance of insomnia and negative reinforcement of body image disturbances. Therefore, we examined whether these processes potentially mediate the relationship between insomnia and body image perception. N = 728 participants completed self-reported measures of sleep-associated monitoring, insomnia symptoms, body image disturbance and coping with body image challenges. Symptoms of insomnia and sleep-associated monitoring behaviour were independently related to increased reports of body image disturbance, cognitive distortions of body image, appearance fixing (i.e. altering appearance by covering, camouflaging or correcting the perceived defect), avoidance (i.e. attempt to escape or avert stressful body image situations) and reduced levels of positive rationale acceptance (i.e. acceptance of the challenging event and positive self-care or rationale self-talk about one’s appearance). More crucially, sleep-related monitoring on awakening, cognitive distortion of body image and negative coping strategies related to body image (i.e. appearance fixing, avoidance, rationale acceptance) mediated the relationship between reports of body image disturbance and insomnia symptoms. The current findings expand upon previous research demonstrating consistent relationships between poor sleep and increased dissatisfaction with cutaneous features, by providing novel evidence that body image disturbances are associated with symptoms of insomnia. More crucially, we highlight the role of particular cognitive and behavioural mechanisms pertaining to sleep (i.e. selective attention for physical signs of poor sleep) and body image (i.e. avoidance and rationale acceptance) which may be targeted as part of cognitive behavioural treatments.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)701-709
Number of pages9
JournalCognitive Processing
Issue number4
Early online date25 Jun 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Nov 2021
Externally publishedYes


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