Introduction Gambling disorder is a behavioural addiction featuring persistent, recurrent gambling that results in distress and impairment of function. Sleep problems are recognised as an important risk factor for developing some mental illnesses including depression, anxiety and substance misuse; however research into gambling disorder and sleep problems is limited.
We aimed to investigate the potential association between gambling disorder and symptoms of insomnia and excessive daytime sleepiness. It was hypothesised that, compared to controls, individuals with gambling disorder would have significantly greater disturbance of sleep, as indicated by increased scores in:1) specific sleep items within and 2) total scores on the Hamilton Anxiety Rating Scale (HAMA) and Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression (HAMD) and 3) increased total score on the Epworth Sleepiness Scale (ESS).
Methods A secondary analysis of a subset of previously published data by Grant and Chamberlain (2018). A total of 152 adults, not currently seeking treatment, aged 18–29 years were recruited. Three groups were determined by DSM-5 criteria – controls, at risk of gambling disorder and gambling disorder. One-way ANOVAs with post-hoc tests were conducted.
Results There were significant differences between groups in sleep disturbance as assessed by the HAMA scale and HAMD scale sleep disturbance items. These differences were more marked in middle and late insomnia. Total scores on the HAMA and HAMD scales were significantly higher in the disorder group, reaching the thresholds for clinical significance for anxiety and depression. ESS scores, measuring excessive daytime sleepiness, were not significantly different between groups.
Discussion Symptoms of sleep problems, especially late- and middle-insomnia, as well as symptoms of anxiety and depression were found to be significantly higher in the gambling disorder group compared to controls. Further research could have implications for the identification and treatment of sleep disorders and psychiatric comorbidities in gambling disorder.
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