Borderline Personality Pathology and Sleep Problems in Later Middle-Age

Borderline personality pathology includes symptoms such as intense anger and mood swings, stormy relationships, impulsivity, and stress-related disassociation.  Previous research shows that borderline pathology and sleep problems are associated with each other; they are also associated with depression. Josh Oltmanns, who presented his research at the 24th APS Annual Convention, in Chicago, used a study to examine whether borderline personality disorder and sleep problems are related to each other independently of depressive symptoms.

Oltmanns works in the St. Louis Personality and Aging Network (SPAN Study) lab at Washington University in St. Louis. He and his colleagues at the lab collected data from 1,630 adults between the ages of 55 and 65 for a longitudinal study about personality and health in later life. These participants complete a personality pathology interview once every two and a half years and fill out numerous personality and health questionnaires every six months.

By analyzing cross-sectional data from the two-and-a-half-year follow-up, Oltmanns and his coauthors determined that borderline pathology and sleep problems were significantly associated with each other and with depression. However, after statistically controlling for depressive symptoms, the relationship between borderline pathology and sleep symptoms was no longer significant. Oltmanns’s finding suggests that the relationship between borderline personality pathology and sleep problems in later middle age is largely explained by depressive symptoms.

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