Purpose of Review
Suicide is currently the second leading cause of death among youth. Identification of modifiable near-term risk factors can inform suicide prevention strategies. One promising, readily assessed factor is sleep. We critically review the literature on sleep and suicidal thoughts and behaviors among youth.
Most studies examining the youth sleep–suicidality relationship are from epidemiological samples in which both sleep problems and suicidality were assessed over variable timeframes using limited items from scales not designed to measure these constructs. Nonetheless, these data overwhelmingly support an association between suicidality and a range of sleep difficulties (e.g., insomnia, short/long sleep, weekend oversleep), above and beyond depressive symptoms. Limited studies include clinical samples or prospective designs. We review potential mechanisms and present a developmentally informed integrative model.
Literature supports a clear association between sleep difficulties and youth suicidality. Future directions include prospective longitudinal studies and targeted prevention efforts.
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The authors wish to thank Pamala Pyle for her assistance with manuscript preparation.
This work was supported by research grants from the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH R01 MH118312, P50 MH115838), the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (SRG-0–056-16), and the University of Pittsburgh Clinical and Translational Science Institute.
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This article does not contain any studies with human or animal subjects performed by any of the authors.
Conflict of Interest
Dr. Goldstein reports grants from NIMH, grants from AFSP, grants from the University of Pittsburgh CTSI, during the conduct of the study; other from Guilford Press, outside the submitted work. Dr. Franzen reports grants from NIMH, grants from AFSP, grants from the University of Pittsburgh CTSI, during the conduct of the study.
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Goldstein, T.R., Franzen, P.L. A Comprehensive Review of the Literature on Sleep Difficulties and Suicidality in Youth to Inform an Integrative Developmental Model and Future Directions. Curr Sleep Medicine Rep 8, 1–19 (2022). https://doi.org/10.1007/s40675-022-00222-9
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