According to new study, erratic sleep patterns can worsen young adults’ suicidal behavior
Sleep disturbances might trigger suicidal thoughts, new research reveals, as recently reported in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry.
As lead author Rebecca Bernert, Ph.D., assistant professor at Stanford University in California declared, “insomnia and nightmares beget more variability in when we are able to then fall asleep on subsequent nights, which speaks to the way in which insomnia develops. Sleep is a barometer of our well-being, and directly impacts how we feel the next day. We believe poor sleep may fail to provide an emotional respite during times of distress, impacting how we regulate our mood, and thereby lowering the threshold for suicidal behaviors.”
Every year, suicide is responsible for more than 44,000 deaths in the United States only, accounting for the 10 th cause of exitus in the country. Meanwhile, almost 1o million adults have reported suicidal thoughts at some point in their lives. As a consequence, suicide is a major public health concern that needs to be assessed and prevented.
As sleep disturbances could be an important triggering factor, scientist have monitored 50 adults aged 18 to 23 years old for one week, in order to establish imbalanced sleep patterns. Moreover, questionnaires were filled by the same participants.
The study results revealed that the ones with sleep disturbances were more prone to suicidal thoughts between 1 and 3 weeks later timetable.
Despite more research is needed on that matter, Dr. Bernert’s study is a first step in finding an accurate predictor in order to help people who want to take their own life.
Abnormal sleep patterns “may represent an important treatment target in suicide prevention. Compared to other risk factors for suicide, disturbed sleep is modifiable and highly treatable using brief, fast-acting interventions. Because sleep is something we universally experience, and we may be more willing to openly talk about it relative to our mental health, we believe its study may represent an important opportunity for suicide prevention,” Dr. Bernert concluded.