Purpose: To examine the impact of early-stage intense romantic love on sleep, daytime functioning and self-worth, adolescents in early-stage intense romantic love were compared to controls. In adolescence, falling in love is an important prerequisite for acquiring psychosocial and psychosexual skills. Early-stage intense romantic love involves physiological, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral dimensions: increased arousal, persistent thoughts for the beloved person, feelings of overwhelming joy, and efforts to sustain proximity to the person loved are prominent features of adolescents in a state of intense romantic love. The stage is comparable to a hypomanic-like state. However, no research has addressed this issue. Furthermore, no data are available with respect to sleep and sleep-related dimensions such as mood.
Method: One hundred seven adolescents (mean age: 17.98 years +/- 1.33) took part in the study; 60 of them indicated they had recently fallen in love and experienced intense romantic love, 47 had a longer-lasting relationship or were singles. Following a screening interview for psychiatric disorders, participants completed questionnaires related to hypomania and sleep habits. Additionally, they completed a sleep log for seven consecutive nights.
Results: Compared to controls, adolescents in early-stage intense romantic love had increased scores on a hypomania scale, and recorded increased positive mood states in the mornings and in the evenings. These adolescents also recorded fewer hours of sleep with increased subjective sleep quality, lowered daytime sleepiness, and heightened concentration during the day.
Conclusions: In adolescence, early-stage intense romantic love is comparable to a hypomanic state. This state is also reflected in altered sleep patterns, mood, and daytime functioning. Consequently, to not bias data in research with adolescents, current stage of love should be taken into account.