Poor sleep quality and insomnia are significantly associated with suicidal symptoms among college undergraduates, according to a research abstract that will be presented on June 9 at SLEEP 2008, the 22nd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies (APSS).
The study, authored by Rebecca A. Bernert, of Florida State University, focused on 322 college undergraduates between 19-24 years of age. The following symptom measures were administered: Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI); Insomnia Severity Index (ISI); Beck Depression Inventory (BDI); and Beck Scale for Suicide Ideation (BSS).
According to the results, consistent with past research, PSQI and ISI total scores were significantly associated with greater BDI scores. Elevated scores on the BSS were significantly predicted by higher scores on the ISI and the PSQI, although the latter emerged only as a non-significant trend. Importantly, after BDI scores were entered into the model as a co-variate, ISI and PSQI scores jointly predicted greater BSS scores, though they failed to significantly predict these symptoms independently.
"This investigation attempted to clarify whether self-reported sleep disturbances serve as a risk factor for suicide ideation in a nonclinical sample of young adults," said Bernert. "We found that insomnia and poor sleep quality jointly predicted elevated suicidal symptoms, even after controlling for depression. However, these sleep complaints failed to individually predict increased risk for suicide. This suggests that, within a less severe sample, multiple indices of sleep disturbances may be necessary to assess suicide risk and guide clinical decision-making. These findings may inform both intervention efforts and suicide risk assessment models."
Insomnia is a classification of sleep disorders in which a person has trouble falling asleep, staying asleep or waking up too early. It is the most commonly reported sleep disorder. About 30 percent of adults have symptoms of insomnia.
It is recommended that adults get between seven and eight hours of nightly sleep.
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