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 in measuring psychological constructs with words and text responses analyzed with AI. In particular I’m interested in how this method can be used in clinical settings to assessment mental health problems such as depression and anxiety. I’m also interested in researching 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 the University of Copenhagen.