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Sleep disturbance symptoms and their associations with alexithymia, depression and anxiety


Several studies indicate that alexithymia and sleep disturbances (especially insomnia) coincide [1]. Aim of the present study is to record the levels of alexithymia, depression and anxiety in a sample of patients with sleep disturbances and to investigate the associations between the above factors.

Materials and methods

The study included fifty (40 male and 10 female) outpatients who were attended a sleep laboratory of our hospital seeking medical support for symptoms of sleep disturbances. Levels of Alexithymia [2], depression and anxiety [3] [4] were assessed, by using the Toronto Alexithymia Scale (TAS-20), the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) and the Spielberger Trait Anxiety Inventory (STAI). Age and education level were also recorded.


Mean BDI score was 10.8 ± 6.0, mean STAI score was 45.0 ± 11.0 and mean TAS-20 score was 53.8 ± 14.3. Mean age and education level were 54.2 ± 13 and 10.0 ± 4.1, respectively. No correlation was observed between the demographic characteristics of the sample and the scores of the clinical measurements (Pearson correlation p > 0.05). In contrary, a strong positive correlation was presented between TAS-20, BDI and STAI.


Our preliminary findings confirm the existence of the association between the sleep disturbance symptoms, alexithymia, depression and anxiety. However, some questions remains: are the associations between sleep disturbances and alexithymia caused by depression and/or anxiety or are independent of them? Further studies are required in order to clarify it.


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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Dionisios Bratis.

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Open Access This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 International License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

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Bratis, D., Spanopoulou, A., Dumitru, S. et al. Sleep disturbance symptoms and their associations with alexithymia, depression and anxiety. Ann Gen Psychiatry 9, S163 (2010).

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  • Public Health
  • Demographic Characteristic
  • Pearson Correlation
  • Sleep Disturbance
  • Beck Depression Inventory