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Sleep Health

Poor Sleep Ups Suicide Risk in Older Adults

Reported poor sleep quality independent of a depressed mood appears to be associated with an increased risk for suicide in older adults, according to e study done by Rebecca A. Bernert, Ph.D. of the Stanford University School of Medicine, California and colleagues and published online in JAMA Psychiatry August 13th 2014.

A release from the publisher notes that suicide is a preventable public health problem and accounts for almost 1 million deaths annually worldwide. Late life is characterized by an increased prevalence of sleep complaints and disproportionately elevated rates of suicide. The study sample included 420 people (400 control patients and 20 patients who died from suicide) who were selected from 14,456 participants.

The authors examined the risk for suicide associated with poor reported sleep in a group of older adults with an average age of nearly 75 years during a 10-year observation period.

Those individuals who reported poorer sleep quality at baseline had a 1.4 times increased risk for suicide. When authors controlled for the effects of a depressed mood, people with poorer sleep at baseline still demonstrated a 1.2 times greater risk for suicide during the 10-year observation period. Two sleep factors in particular – difficulty falling asleep and nonrestorative sleep – were associated with increased suicide risk.

“We suggest that poor subjective sleep quality may therefore represent a useful screening tool and a novel therapeutic target for suicide prevention in late life,” the authors wrote.

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