On a daily basis, many of us are bombarded by emotionally-charged information such as news headlines, social media posts, and the various facial expressions we encounter that convey potent cues about our surroundings. Negative information is especially attention-grabbing and, therefore, difficult to ignore even when carrying out an unrelated activity, for example, trying to read on a bus while an argument ensues in the background.
A lack of sleep makes everything harder. Focusing, finishing assignments, and coping with everyday stress can become monumental tasks. People with anxiety and depression often have sleep problems. But little has been known about whether or how their poor sleep affects a specific region of the brain known to be involved in regulating negative emotional responses.
Cognitive behavioral therapy, a form of therapy that is centered on helping people to recognize and break negative patterns of thinking, is more or less the gold standard when it comes to talk therapies.