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Vice News featured Dyson Professor Leora Trub in "Why Do I Keep Texting People Who I Know Aren't That Into Me?"

08/12/2020

Vice News featured Dyson Professor Leora Trub in "Why Do I Keep Texting People Who I Know Aren't That Into Me?"

When people feel isolated, lonely, or bored, they tend to reach for their phones in the hopes their texting partner sends a timely, thoughtful response (or, in pre-pandemic days, initiated a hangout or date) to uplift their mood, said Leora Trub, an associate professor of psychology at Pace University who studies the intersection of psychology and technology.

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Bustle featured Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Professor Leora Trub in "What Happens To Your Body When You Have A Stress Dream"

07/14/2020

Bustle featured Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Professor Leora Trub in "What Happens To Your Body When You Have A Stress Dream"

You’re back in high school and didn't study for a big test. You’re trying to run away from someone but your legs won’t move. Your teeth crumble. A snake appears. You’re naked and you shouldn’t be.

Stress dreams don’t all look the same, but one thing they all have in common is that they are legitimately stressful. Though the way we experience stress psychologically and physiologically might not be as intense in a dream state as it can be in a wakeful state, it’s real. What happens to your body when you have a stress dream is very similar to when you have a stressful experience IRL. According to Leora Trub, Ph.D., an associate professor of psychology at Pace's Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, stress hormones like adrenaline and cortisol are released — which makes your heart beat faster, causes a heightening of the senses, raises your blood pressure, quickens your breathing, slows your digestion, and makes you sweat — whether the stressful scenario is real or not.

A 2013 study published in Behavioral Sleep Medicine concluded that people who live with general anxiety disorder (over 3% of the population) are more likely to have anxious or stressful dreams. But in general, more than half of all dreams are negative or stressful, even if they don’t have lasting effects.

According to Trub, stress dreams are a message from the subconscious mind to the conscious mind, asking for some attention. “There are all kinds of ways our bodies convey we need assistance,” Trub says. “For some people it’s panic attacks, but for others it's stress dreams.” If the stress dreams are recurrent, “there is typically something in your waking life that you have been ignoring,” she says. Usually, people who have stress dreams have stress in their waking life. “They compound each other — our brain and mind are in a relationship,” she says. As a clinician, Trub says she believes dreams provide valuable data for you to look at in your waking life.

As for what to do about stress dreams, Trub says the first thing is to “avoid giving power to them.”

Stress dreams take place in the REM sleep cycle, when your body is still, and you are supposed to be at your most restful state. According to neuropsychologist Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., it's physiologically jarring to wake from a dream in which you had visualized problems or memories that induced anxiety. Stress isn't just in the dream; it's what's for breakfast, too.

"We know that during a stress dream there are a number of changes in the brain, specifically the HPA axis (the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis)," Hafeez says. "This system triggers real stress responses, so the dream you are waking up from can cause physical sensations that could take just moments to get over, or could have repercussions throughout the day in terms of anxiety and nervousness depending on the dream," she adds. When you experience recurring stress dreams, you have to factor lack of sleep into the equation, which Hafeez says increases the anxious response, making it harder to get over.

As for what to do about stress dreams, Trub says the first thing is to “avoid giving power to them” by obsessing over them analytically, as the initial goal is to calm yourself down right when you wake up. “If a psychological and physiological response is happening, you’re experiencing stress. And the feeling you have when you wake up and try to understand the circumstances of the dream is pure adrenaline," she says. “Before studying the dream, I encourage patients to regulate the physiological system and use techniques like mindfulness to make the dream’s power subside.” Then, once you feel calm, you can explore the dream in a productive way that isn’t fueled by a hormonal reaction. This order ensures that you’re not encouraging a stressful state.

If you’ve ruled out that your stress dreams are a result of sleep disturbances like sleep apnea, or physical disturbances like noise, and confronting your stress dreams isn’t reducing the intensity or frequency of the dreams, it's not a bad idea to seek outside help. “It can be a therapist, but it can also be a friend or family member. Talking to an objective collaborator about what you might not be thinking about or paying attention to is really helpful,” Trub says. “Often, discussion can unpack even the craziest dream and once you find that symbolic root of stress, the dream stops being relevant and they subside.”

Sources:
Leora Trub, Ph.D., associate professor of psychology at Pace's Dyson College of Arts and Sciences.
Sanam Hafeez, Psy.D., neuropsychologist practicing in New York City.

Read the Bustle article.

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Rewire featured Dyson’s Leora Trub's study in "Texting Makes It Easy to Overshare. Is That a Good Thing?"

01/16/2020

Rewire featured Dyson’s Leora Trub's study in "Texting Makes It Easy to Overshare. Is That a Good Thing?"

One study from Pace University suggests that texting problems might be due to communication style mismatch rather than the medium. When two partners have a similar texting style, they report greater relationship satisfaction, regardless of the content of the messages, according to the researchers.

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"Mic" featured psychology associate professor Leora Trub in "Sad culture normalizes mental illness. But does it also glamorize it?"

12/02/2019

"Mic" featured psychology associate professor Leora Trub in "Sad culture normalizes mental illness. But does it also glamorize it?"

...And while poking fun at mental illness helps some people cope, others may see it as trivializing their struggle. For instance, in response to a photo video producer Kelsey Darragh posted of herself wearing a t-shirt that reads “Anxiety Queen” on Instagram, one user commented, “Funny that my anxiety is literally debilitating and makes me wanna die but at least you made a cute shirt from it.” In Trub’s perspective, though, everyone has the right to work through their difficulties in any number of ways, including those that may be trivializing to other people.

Research suggests that people those who create this content are more likely to reap benefits than those who just consume it, according to Trub, most likely because sharing their pain necessarily involves tapping into the emotional piece of whatever tough situation they’re facing and can yield an affirming “Same” or “I felt that” from other users.

“When you take more of a risk [by being vulnerable], the potential of getting what you need is greater,” she says. Trub notes, though, that repeatedly posting sad rants does carry the risk of alienating people; they may rush to offer support initially, but generally aren't equipped to handle that volume or type of information.

Ultimately, whether online sad culture is healthy or unhealthy all comes down to how we use it. Regardless of whether you’re posting or consuming sad content, Trub suggests asking yourself whether doing so is actually making you feel better, and whether you’re also engaging in other activities to fulfill your needs. When it’s so easy to passively scroll through Instagram, a little mindfulness can go a long way.

Read the full Mic article.

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"Business Insider" featured Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Professor Leora Trub in "Millennials and Gen Z love their technology — but American seniors are actually spending the most time on their screens"

08/16/2019

"Business Insider" featured Dyson College of Arts and Sciences Professor Leora Trub in "Millennials and Gen Z love their technology — but American seniors are actually spending the most time on their screens"

... In fact, the addiction criteria usually used for drugs and alcohol is now being used for technology, Leora Trub, Ph.D., who leads Pace University's Digital Media and Psychology Lab, previously told Business Insider.

She likens a technology addiction, specifically, to food addiction. Technology, she noted, is "... out there for everyone, everyone needs to use it to some extent for their daily lives. It's an alluring and compelling thing."

But when used with moderation and self-control, watching TV isn't a bad thing, as it can offer both distraction and entertainment as a coping mechanism for burnout or stress, Trub said: "Everyone should get to have their own vices and TV is a fine one." 

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