Poor Sleep May Be a Suicide Risk Factor


A study published last month revealed that Stanford researchers found poor sleep may be a risk factor for suicide in adults over the age of 65. After using the data from a study that followed the health patterns of over 14,000 participants, it was found that 20 of the participants died by committing suicide. Next the Stanford researchers accounted for other factors and “poor sleep quality was associated with a 20 percent higher risk of death by suicide.” This is just one more study that proves just how beneficial sleep is to the body, including the mental health.

One of the interesting findings of this study was described in detail by the lead author of the study, Rebecca Bernert at the Stanford University School of Medicine. She said, “The majority of individuals who die by suicide visit their doctor in the months preceding, and these are missed opportunities to enhance detection and intervene.” Because of the social connotations to depression, patients are less likely to report depression as an issue. Many patients see sleep loss as a quantifiable symptom when they may not feel the same way about depression. Getting proper treatment for a sleep disorder may prevent risk factors associated with sleep loss including an increased risk of suicide.

The strongest predictor of suicide was the combination of bad sleep and depression. Recognizing the connection between these two conditions may decrease the amount of suicides committed by patients. Physicians might also take a patient’s complaints of sleep loss and follow up with questions relating to mental state, to verify that depression is not present alongside the sleep loss.

Reported sleep problems most linked with suicide were difficulty falling asleep and feeling like sleep was not restorative to the body. The director of the VA Center of Excellence for Suicide Prevention Research, Wilfred R. Pigeon says, “What is even more interesting is that the risk imparted by poor sleep is even stronger than that imparted by depression.”

Whether you have noticed a change in your mood or in your sleep patterns, it is important to make sure you do not have any underlying conditions that are harmful to your health. FusionSleep can work with you to assess your sleep habits and treat your condition properly. To learn more about how to get better sleep, contact us and schedule an appointment today.