Summary: A new study reports on a link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts.
Source: University of Manchester.
The link between sleep problems and suicidal thoughts and behaviours is made starkly clear in new research from The University of Manchester, published in the BMJ Open.
In this study, conducted by researchers from the University’s School of Health Sciences alongside the University of Oxford, 18 participants were interviewed about the role sleep problems have on suicidal tendencies.
Three inter-related pathways to suicidal thoughts were identified arising from sleep problems. The first was that being awake at night heightened the risks of suicidal thoughts and attempts, which in part was seen as a consequence of the lack of help or resources available at night.
Secondly, the research found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night’s sleep made life harder for respondents, adding to depression, as well as increasing negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity.
Finally, respondents said sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, providing an escape from their problems. However, the desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleeping which in turn caused disturbed sleeping patterns – reinforcing the first two pathways.
Donna Littlewood, lead author of the study, said the research has implications for service providers, such as health care specialist and social services.
“Our research underscores the importance of restoring healthy sleep in relation to coping with mental health problems, suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
“Additionally, night time service provision should be a key consideration within suicide prevention strategies, given that this study shows that those who are awake in the night are at an increased risk of suicide.”
About this suicide and sleep research article
Source: Jamie Brown – University of Manchester Image Source: This NeuroscienceNews.com image is in the public domain. Original Research:Abstract for “Understanding the role of sleep in suicide risk: qualitative interview study” by Donna L Littlewood, Patricia Gooding, Simon D Kyle, Daniel Pratt, and Sarah Peters in BMJ Open. Published online August 22 2016 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012113
Cite This NeuroscienceNews.com Article
[cbtabs][cbtab title=”MLA”]University of Manchester. “Disrupted Sleep Patterns May Lead to Increased Suicide Risk.” NeuroscienceNews. NeuroscienceNews, 24 August 2016. <https://neurosciencenews.com/suicide-sleep-disruptions-4898/>.[/cbtab][cbtab title=”APA”]University of Manchester. (2016, August 24). Disrupted Sleep Patterns May Lead to Increased Suicide Risk. NeuroscienceNews. Retrieved August 24, 2016 from https://neurosciencenews.com/suicide-sleep-disruptions-4898/[/cbtab][cbtab title=”Chicago”]University of Manchester. “Disrupted Sleep Patterns May Lead to Increased Suicide Risk.” https://neurosciencenews.com/suicide-sleep-disruptions-4898/ (accessed August 24, 2016).[/cbtab][/cbtabs]
Understanding the role of sleep in suicide risk: qualitative interview study
Objective Sleep problems are associated with increased risk of suicide, independent of depression. This analysis explores narrative accounts of the role of sleep in relation to suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Design Qualitative study, based on in-depth semistructured interviews which were analysed with an inductive, latent thematic analysis.
Participants A maximum variation sample of 18 people with experience of a major depressive episode, and suicidal thoughts and behaviours.
Setting Primary care, North West England.
Results Respondents emphasised the importance of sleep for recovery and management of their mental well-being. Moreover, three inter-related pathways were identified, whereby beliefs about sleep contributed to suicidal thoughts and behaviours. First, being awake during the biological night heightened risk of suicidal behaviours, as this was perceived to be an opportune time for a suicide attempt due to the decreased chances that a friend of family member would intervene during a suicide attempt. Additionally, the reduction in available support at night added to suicide risk. Second, failure to achieve good sleep was perceived to make life harder through contributing to core features of depression, such as negative thinking, attention difficulties and inactivity. Third, sleep acted as an alternative to suicide, by providing an escape from problems, including mental health problems, in waking life. However, this desire to sleep to escape was associated with excessive daytime sleeping, which subsequently may reinforce disturbed sleeping patterns.
Conclusions Sleep problems should be an important treatment target when working with suicidal clients. More broadly, night-time service provision should be considered when developing suicide prevention initiatives.
“Understanding the role of sleep in suicide risk: qualitative interview study” by Donna L Littlewood, Patricia Gooding, Simon D Kyle, Daniel Pratt, and Sarah Peters in BMJ Open. Published online August 22 2016 doi:10.1136/bmjopen-2016-012113