Staying awake at night or lack of good sleep may increase the risk of suicidal thoughts and attempts, a new study has found.
According to the study, the researchers highlighted the link between sleep problems, suicidal thoughts and changes in behaviours.
In this study, 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 sleep at night 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, said the paper published in the journal BMJ Open.
“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,” said Donna Littlewood, researcher at the University of Manchester.