Article: Sleep problems, nightmares linked to suicide: study


Well-Known Member
I found this on yahoo news and thought it was interesting:

Sleep problems, nightmares linked to suicide: study

By Charnicia Huggins
Tue Jan 9, 11:40 AM ET

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Sleep disturbances, especially nightmares, are common among people who have attempted suicide, new study findings show.

"To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report on an association between nightmares and suicidality in suicide attempters," co-author Nisse Sjstrm, RN of Sahlgrenska University Hospital, Gteborg, Sweden, and colleagues write. However, they add that "our findings of an association between nightmares and suicidality does not imply causality."

Sjstrm and colleagues examined this association in a study of 165 adults, ages 18 to 68 years, who were admitted to Sahlgrenska University Hospital after attempting suicide. The patients were interviewed about their sleep habits, such as whether they had trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, and how frequently they experienced nightmares.

They were also evaluated for intensity of suicidal thoughts, using anxiety and depression scales, along with Suicide Assessment Scale, which determines and rates the symptoms of suicidal thoughts and behaviors.

Most (89 percent) patients reported having at least one type of sleep problem, with difficulty falling asleep as the most common problem (73 percent), the researchers report in the journal SLEEP. In addition, 69 percent said they had trouble staying asleep and nearly 60 percent said they experienced early morning awakening.

Two out of every three patients (66 percent) also reported experiencing nightmares, study findings indicate. "Frequent nightmares was the only sleep variable associated with high suicidality," the researchers report.

After factoring in other variables that may influence degree of suicidality, including other mental diagnoses, the investigators found that patients with frequent nightmares were almost four times as likely to be highly suicidal compared with patients who didn't report having nightmares.

The association of sleep disturbances, nightmares and suicide "seems logical," according to Dr. Clete Kushida, a sleep expert not involved in the study. "But this is the first study to actually show this is true," he said.

Kushida, who is on the American Academy of Sleep Medicine's board of directors, advises that people who are severely depressed or suicidal, or those experiencing any type of sleep disturbance, should "definitely talk to (their) physician about it."

Most adults have occasional nightmares, but they usually diminish in frequency and intensity as people grow older, explained Kushida, who also directs the Stanford University Center for Human Sleep Research, in California.

Frequent nightmares and other sleep disturbances "might be a symptom of an underlying sleep disorder," such as sleep apnea, he said. Emphasizing the importance of getting help for any sleep disturbance problems, Kushida told Reuters Health that if patients' primary care physicians are not receptive to their sleep complaints, "they may want to seek counsel from a sleep specialist."

SOURCE: SLEEP, January 1, 2007.


Interesting article. Thanks for sharing.

Adequate, undisturbed sleep is so necessary for overall mental health that this doesn't suprise me.


Well-Known Member
Makes sense to me. I had horrible nightmares during my depressions. Scary, horrible, gory ones that made me not able to sleep, which I needed to do. For me, it wasn't not sleeping/being depressed and suicidal though. It was the other way around. I'd be sleeping just fine and suddenly skid into a depression and be unable to sleep, which didn't help matters any.


Active Member
I had severe, seriously bad nightmares as as a kid - night terrors too. I've read that night terrors are not associated with nightmares - I disagree. I would remember the nightmare that triggered the terror reaction. I remember being given various pills before bedtime, as a young child, but not being told why. I'm fairly sure it was to try and calm me so I wouldn't have nightmares, but they didn't work. The problem isn't dealt with by sedation, because the mind still needs to sort through the day. The problem was, I was remembering the nightmares because they always woke me up. Nasty.

I have also had suicidal thoughts at times, associated with big problems in my life. I had more of these thoughts as an adult, AFTER I had more coping skills with my nightmares. I also had nightmares related to medication I was on - no suicidal thoughts associated there.

There could be more complicated links than credited. I think I have an idea why my nightmares were so bad - it wasn't just a difficult childhood, it was an overly active brain desperately seeking stimulation. I had a lot more to sift through, maybe. It would be interesting to do some digging.



New Member
I have sleep apnea and use medications and CPAp therapy to get good quality sleep. I have done alot of reading on sleep and the various stages so this article does not surprise me. REM sleep(this is the stage when dreams occur) is believed to be the time when we heal and work through our emotional problems. If sleep is disturbed and one isn't getting enough REM it will definately affect our emotions. -RM


New Member
Both my kids had night terrors and I have major problems sleeping,so this article really makes me think and encourages me to be more watchfulmthanks for that!


Mom? What's a difficult child?
K has horrible night terrors... yuck. She has nightmares also. When she spent the 5 weeks in the psychiatric hospital we spent the night at a hotel, we shared a bed most nights, It was creepy... I don't know how that kid got any "actual" sleep... the prazosin actually seems to help her. When we decreased it to 1mg the terrors increased... when we increased to 3 or 4mg it didn't seem to do much more... it doesn't make them completely gone, but she sleeps much more fitfull.

Her depression is so much worse when she has a bad night...

Thanks TM