Sleep disruptions may increase suicide risk, finds a study

Sleep disruptions: Staying awake at night and a prolonged failure to achieve a good night’s sleep may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts, a new study has warned.

Researchers from University of Manchester and University of Oxford in the UK, interviewed 18 participants 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.

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Researchers also 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.

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.

“Our research underscores the importance of restoring healthy sleep in relation to coping with mental health problems, suicidal thoughts and behaviours,” said Donna Littlewood from Manchester University.

“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,” said Littlewood. The findings were published in the journal BMJ Open.

DOSSING DOWN

Researchers found that a prolonged failure to achieve a good night’s sleep makes life harder

Desire to use sleep as an avoidance tactic led to increased day time sleep, which in turn cause disturbed sleeping patterns

Researchers have found sleep acting as an alternative to suicide, providing people an escape route from their problems

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