Stanford study links poor sleep quality to increased suicide risk in older adults

Elderly woman - depression, courtesy of"Our findings suggest that poor sleep quality may serve as a stand-alone risk factor for late-life suicide...this is important because sleep disturbances are highly treatable, yet arguably less stigmatizing than many other suicide risk factors."

~Rebecca Bernert, PhD, Lead Researcher, Stanford School of Medicine

Highlights from the study, published in Science Daily:

  • Epidemiological study of 14,456 adults aged 65 and older
  • Researchers compared the sleep quality of 20 people who died by suicide with the sleep patterns of 400 similar individuals over a 10-year period
  • Study found that poor sleep predicted risk better than depressive symptoms. The combination of poor sleep and depressed mood was the strongest predictor of suicide risk
  • Participants reporting poor sleep had a 1.4 times greater chance of death by suicide within a 10-year period than participants who reported sleeping well
  • Stanford team has two concurrent studies underway testing the effectiveness of an insomnia treatment for the prevention of depression and suicidal behaviors