A daily diary study on maladaptive daydreaming, mind wandering, and sleep disturbances: Examining within-person and between-persons relations


Cross-sectional and experimental research have shown that task-unrelated thoughts (i.e., mind wandering) relate to sleep disturbances, but there is little research on whether this association generalizes to the day-level and other kinds of task-unrelated mentation. We employed a longitudinal daily diary design to examine the within-person and between-person associations between three self-report instruments measuring mind wandering, maladaptive daydreaming (a condition characterized by having elaborate fantasy daydreams so insistent that they interfere with daily functioning) and sleep disturbances. A final sample of 126 participants self-identified as experiencing maladaptive daydreaming completed up to 8 consecutive daily reports (in total 869 daily observations). The scales showed acceptable-to-excellent within-person reliability (i.e., systematic day-to-day change) and excellent between-person reliability. The proportion of between-person variance was 36% for sleep disturbances, 57% for mind wandering, and 75% for maladaptive daydreaming, respectively (the remaining being stochastic and systematic within-person variance). Contrary to our pre-registered hypothesis, maladaptive daydreaming did not significantly predict sleep disturbances the following night, B = -0.00 (SE = 0.04), p = .956. Exploratory analyses indicated that while nightly sleep disturbances predicted mind wandering the following day, B = 0.20 (SE = 0.04), p < .001, it did not significantly predict maladaptive daydreaming the following day, B = -0.04 (SE = 0.05), p = .452. Moreover, daily mind wandering did not significantly predict sleep disturbances the following night, B = 0.02 (SE = 0.05), p = .731. All variables correlated at the between-person level. We discuss the implications concerning the differences between maladaptive daydreaming and mind wandering and the possibility of targeting sleep for mind wandering interventions.

Oscar Kjell
Oscar Kjell

I’m a researcher in Psychology interested measuring psychological construct with words and text responses analyzed with AI. In particular I am interested in well-being, harmony in life and sustainable living. I’m currently funded for an international postdoc at the Computer Science Department at Stony Brook University and and University of Copenhagen. I am also carrying out research at Lund University Centre for Sustainability Studies at Lund University.