Year: 2020 Source: Clinical Psychology Review. (2020). 81, 101895. SIEC No: 20201006

The current review provides a quantitative synthesis of the empirical literature on sleep disturbance as a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs). A systematic search of PsycINFO, MEDLINE, and the references of prior reviews resulted in 41 eligible studies included in this meta-analysis. Sleep disturbance, including insomnia, prospectively predicted STBs, yielding small-to-medium to medium effect sizes for these associations. Complicating interpretation of these findings however, is that few studies of suicidal ideation and suicide attempts, as well as none of suicide deaths, assessed short-term risk (i.e., employed follow-up assessments of under a month). Such studies are needed to evaluate current conceptualizations of sleep dysregulation as being involved in acute risk for suicidal behavior. This want of short-term risk studies also suggests that current clinical recommendations to monitor sleep as a potential warning sign of suicide risk has a relatively modest empirical basis, being largely driven by cross-sectional or retrospective research. The current review ends with recommendations for generating future research on short-term risk and greater differentiation between acute and chronic aspects of sleep disturbance, and by providing a model of how sleep disturbance may confer risk for STBs through neuroinflammatory and stress processes and associated impairments in executive control.