The goal of our research is the successful treatment and prevention of chronic insomnia and depression. We do this by testing insomnia treatments in people with insomnia and depression and identifying for whom treatment is effective. Improving sleep in those with depression produces far greater depression recovery rates than our current approach to depression which is to treat the depression alone, so our results may directly improve depression treatment.
We also examine how a person progresses from one poor night of sleep to chronic insomnia. One of the ways in which poor sleep can become more chronic is when a person becomes overly focused on whether they sleep and on the daytime consequences of poor sleep (i.e., fatigue, concentration problems, negative mood). When a person becomes preoccupied with sleep they often go to great lengths to avoid the daytime symptoms of sleep and will spend too much effort trying to sleep—when sleep is one of the few things for which effort is counterproductive.
Understanding and changing the way people view insomnia and fatigue is an effective way to treat insomnia, and we believe that it may also prevent insomnias.