Skip to main content

06-10-2013 | Sleep medicine | Article

Short sleep duration linked to suicidal ideation


Free abstract

medwireNews: Short sleep duration is associated with an increased risk for suicidal ideation, a cross-sectional study of Korean adults shows.

The relationship remained significant regardless of health behaviors such as smoking and alcohol use and the presence of depression.

“This research suggests that primary care clinicians should be more attentive in evaluating short sleep duration… in the general population, and supports the need for more attention to depressive mood, suicidal ideation, and mental health in people with short sleep duration,” say lead researcher Hoo-Sun Chang (Yonsei University, Seoul, Korea) and colleagues.

Among 15,236 adults studied, 13.3% had an average daily sleep duration of 5 hours or less, 7.7% of at least 9 hours, and the remaining 78.9% of 6–8 hours.

After taking into account sociodemographic factors, health behaviors, perceived health status, and depression, short sleepers had a significant 38% higher risk for suicidal ideation than healthy sleepers. Long sleepers had a 20% higher risk, but it was not significant.

The association between short sleep duration and suicidal ideation existed for both men and women, although it appeared to be stronger for men.

The researchers note in Sleep that inhibition of the serotonin system has been proposed to play a significant role in both suicide and sleep, and they say it will be important to study how changes in serotonin level and depression impact on the association between suicide and sleep.

They also call for in-depth studies to determine what elements of short sleep – for example, difficulty initiating sleep, wake after sleep onset, maintaining sleep, and insomnia – are implicated in the risk for suicidal ideation.

Noting that “in 60% of cases, suicide planning and suicide attempt occurs within one year of suicidal ideation,” the team concludes that “[r]evealing factors that are related to suicidal ideation will facilitate our ability to [prevent] suicide attempts.”

medwireNews ( is an independent clinical news service provided by Springer Healthcare Limited. © Springer Healthcare Ltd; 2013

By Lucy Piper, Senior medwireNews Reporter