Sleep Duration and Insomnia Symptoms as Risk Factors for Suicidal Ideation in a Nationally Representative Sample

Prim Care Companion CNS Disord. 2015 Dec 31;17(6):10.4088/PCC.13m01551. doi: 10.4088/PCC.13m01551. eCollection 2015.


Objective: Suicidal behavior (suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and suicide completion) has been increasingly linked with difficulty initiating sleep, maintaining sleep, and early morning awakenings. However, the relationship between suicidal behavior and sleep duration abnormalities is unclear, especially at the population level. The present study used a nationally representative sample to examine the association of suicidal ideation with extreme sleep durations and insomnia symptoms.

Method: Cross-sectional data from adult respondents (≥ 18 years of age, N = 6,228) were extracted from the 2007-2008 wave of the National Health and Nutritional Examination Survey. Ordinal logistic regression analyses were used to evaluate the relationship of suicidal ideation with sleep duration, global insomnia, and individual insomnia symptoms in models adjusted for sociodemographic, socioeconomic, and health-related covariates.

Results: Suicidal ideation was associated with abnormalities of sleep duration. This relationship ceased to exist once the model was adjusted for depressive symptoms. As expected, an increased level of suicidal ideation was consistently associated with insomnia. Of the insomnia symptoms, difficulty maintaining sleep was found to be the most predictive of suicidal ideation, followed by difficulty initiating sleep (P< .05).

Conclusions: Abnormalities of sleep duration and continuity should prompt a clinical assessment for suicide risk.