A study led by researchers in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Arizona School of Medicine-Tucson identifies a link between sleep disturbances and suicidal ideation and behavior that may help reduce suicide risk among young adults it was done.
In 2020, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that suicide was the second leading cause of death among individuals ages 10-14 and 25-34, with more than 9,000 deaths. Suicide is also the third leading cause of death among individuals between the ages of 15 and 24, with over 6,000 deaths.
“Suicide is a difficult problem because it is a complex interplay of so many different factors. Sleep disorders are one such factor,” said the first author. Dr. Andrew Tubbs, a medical student researcher in the Sleep and Health Research Program in Psychiatry. “Our study shows that sleep deprivation is associated with suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and death in college students. However, unlike other suicide risk factors, sleep deprivation is not permanent. If students can sleep better, they may be able to reduce their risk of suicide.”
“Sleep continuity, timing, quality, and disturbances are associated with suicidal ideation and suicide attempts in college students.” Journal of American College Health.
This study evaluated suicidal ideation and behavior in college students during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic from May 2020 to May 2021. Of the 885 college students who participated in the study, 41% had thoughts of suicide during their lifetime. Experiencing suicidal thoughts in the past 3 months. 11% of students reported having attempted suicide during their lifetime, and 16% of those attempted suicide within the past three months.
Researchers then compared individuals with and without suicidal ideation or previous suicide attempts on multiple measures of sleep, including sleep duration, timing, insomnia, nightmares, sleep control, and depressive symptoms.
“Key differences between those with and without suicidal thoughts and behaviors included sleep duration, efficiency, quality, perceived sleep control, clinical insomnia, and clinical nightmares,” said the study’s senior authors. says. Dr. Michael Grundner, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Director of the Behavioral Sleep Medicine Clinic, Member of the BIO5 Institute. “These findings highlight how multiple sleep deprivations contribute to suicide risk in this population.”
Taking steps to improve sleep health may help lower the risk of suicide, Dr. Grandner said. He avoids using digital devices at least one hour before bed and does not consume cannabis as a sleep aid. It is recommended that
“There are also evidence-based interventions that campus health centers can implement, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy for insomnia and image-rehearsal therapy for nightmares,” Dr. Grundner said. “Both have demonstrated efficacy in college student populations, and given the impact of sleep deprivation on academic performance, they are worthy interventions to apply.”
“The easiest thing to do to sleep better is to be consistent,” said Dr. Tubbs. If you go to bed late or wake up in the middle of the night, you will sleep easily the next night, so stick to your schedule.”