Studies: Sleep disorders lead to increased suicides

Researchers at Stanford University found that better understanding of sleep disorders could lead to decreased suicide rates in young adults. The physicians published the results of their study in the journal "The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry".

A disturbed sleep can lead to health problems. Physicians could now even find a connection between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts.(Photo: Sven Vietense /

Better understanding of suicidal thoughts can prevent future suicides
Suicide is the second most common cause of death among young people in the US.In the UK suicide is even the most prevalent cause of death among young people. Researchers were now trying to figure out what a link between sleep disorders and suicides. A better understanding of the signs of suicidal thoughts is important to prevent future suicides, the experts explain.

How was the study structured?
Previous research has already shown a link between suicidal thoughts and poor sleep. The current study was trying to find out which aspects of disturbed sleep lead to suicidal thoughts. In their research, scientists used sleep monitoring equipment and participants' notes of suicidal thoughts. For this purpose, the experts examined 50 students with thoughts about suicide occurring. The doctors monitored the sleep of the students for a period of seven days. In addition, the subjects were asked to complete a questionnaire at the end and at the beginning of the study, the researchers explain. He asked questions about the severity of suicidal thoughts, depression, insomnia, nightmares and alcohol consumption.

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    Changes in sleep habits can predict suicidal thoughts
    Researchers found that changes in sleep habits can be used to predict suicidal thoughts. More evidence of suicidal thoughts were increased symptoms of insomnia and nightmares, the authors further explain. It has long been known that sleep problems and especially insomnia are associated with a variety of mental health problems, the physicians add. The results of the current study made it clear that insomnia contributed to a significant risk of developing many mental disorders.

    Does bad sleep lead to increased suicide attempts?
    Over the past 15 years, scientists have expanded the scope of their research into a relationship between sleep problems and increased suicidal risk. Within this framework, various research groups around the world began to investigate whether poor sleep is associated with increased suicidal thoughts and whether poor sleep is more likely to result in suicide or suicide attempts.

    study results were independent of depression
    The current investigation revealed that there was indeed a strong association between sleep problems and suicide. The severity and duration of symptoms of insomnia and nightmares were associated with increased suicidal thoughts, say the authors. Most interestingly, the results were found in almost all studies regardless of the diagnosis of depression or the number of depressive symptoms.

    Three possible reasons for a relationship between sleep problems and suicides
    The exact reasons for the identified relationship between sleep problems and suicides are not yet clear, explain the doctors. The researchers have three possible explanations for these effects. One of these is a significant overlap between brain circuits involved in both emotion regulation and sleep, the researchers say. In other words, when sleep is disturbed, the likelihood of a disturbed mood also increases. The second theory is that changes in the structure of sleep due to poor sleep and insomnia make us more susceptible to mood disorders and suicidal thoughts, say the authors. The third explanation is based on daytime fatigue caused by poor sleep. This fatigue affects the ability to think and act rationally, the experts add.(as)

Physicians Investigate the Impact of Sleep Disorders on Suicidal Thoughts
sleep disorders among young adults can lead to increased rates of suicide. Occurring sleep disorders are often an early warning sign that an increase in suicidal thoughts occurs. Researchers now found that better understanding of sleep disorders could prevent many suicides.

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