"Making sure that sleep is obtained during the right time of day may be an inexpensive and easily disseminable intervention for individuals who are bothered by intrusive thoughts," said Jacob Nota from Binghamton University in US.

The findings also suggest that sleep disruption may be linked to the development of repetitive negative thinking.

Intervention focus on getting enough sleep could lead to new treatment for people who are at risk of developing a disorder characterized by such intrusive thoughts, the researchers said.

The study involved 100 young adults. "If further findings support the relation between sleep timing and repetitive negative thinking, this could one day lead to a new avenue for treatment of individuals with internalising disorders," said Meredith Coles from Binghamton University.

"Studying the relation between reductions in sleep duration and psychopathology has already demonstrated that focusing on sleep in the clinic also leads to reductions in symptoms of psychopathology," said Coles.

The findings appeared in the journal Cognitive Therapy and Research.

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