Cookies on this website

We use cookies to ensure that we give you the best experience on our website. If you click 'Accept all cookies' we'll assume that you are happy to receive all cookies and you won't see this message again. If you click 'Reject all non-essential cookies' only necessary cookies providing core functionality such as security, network management, and accessibility will be enabled. Click 'Find out more' for information on how to change your cookie settings.

Cognitive models of insomnia highlight internal and external cognitive-biases for sleep-related "threat" in maintaining the disorder. This systematic review of the sleep-related attentional and interpretive-bias literature includes meta-analytic calculations of each construct. Searches identified N = 21 attentional-bias and N = 8 interpretive-bias studies meeting the inclusion/exclusion criteria. Seventeen attentional-bias studies compared normal-sleepers and poor-sleepers/insomnia patients. Using a random effects model, meta-analytic data based on standardized mean differences of attentional-bias studies determined the weighted pooled effect size to be moderate at 0.60 (95%CI:0.26-0.93). Likewise, seven of eight interpretive-bias studies involved group comparisons. Meta-analytic data determined the weighted pooled effect size as moderate at .44 (95%CI:0.19-0.69). Considering these outcomes, disorder congruent cognitive-biases appear to be a key feature of insomnia. Despite statistical support, absence of longitudinal data limits causal inference concerning the relative role cognitive-biases in the development and maintenance of insomnia. Methodological factors pertaining to task design, sample and stimuli are discussed in relation to outcome variation. Finally, we discuss the next steps in advancing the understanding of sleep-related biases in insomnia.

Original publication




Journal article


Sleep med rev

Publication Date





Attentional-bias, Cognitive bias, Insomnia, Interpretive-bias, Poor-sleep, Humans, Sleep Initiation and Maintenance Disorders, Sleep, Attention, Attentional Bias, Bias