Year: 2021 Source: Molecular Psychiatry. (2020). Published online 30 April 2020. SIEC No: 20210034

Prior research suggests that sleep disturbances are associated with increased risk of suicide. However, sleep disturbances are associated with a wide range of psychiatric disorders, and it is unknown whether this association is independent of psychopathology. In a large nationally representative prospective survey, the National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), we used structural equation modeling to examine the shared and specific effects of three sleep complaints (i.e., trouble falling asleep, early morning awakening, and hypersomnia) on the 3-year occurrence of attempting suicide. Because psychiatric disorders increase the risk of suicide attempt almost exclusively through a general psychopathology factor representing their shared effect, covariates included that factor, prior history of suicide attempt, and a wide range of sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. The 3-year prevalence rate of suicide attempt was 0.6% (nā€‰=ā€‰241). Compared with participants who did not attempt suicide between the two waves, those who did reported significantly more frequently having trouble falling asleep (44.6% vs. 16.6%), early morning awakening (38.9% vs. 12.7%), and hypersomnia (35.0% vs. 10.7%). Following adjustments, effects of sleep complaints on this risk were significant and exerted almost exclusively through a general sleep complaints factor representing the shared effect across all sleep complaints. There were no residual associations of any individual sleep complaint with attempting suicide above that association. Sleep complaints are associated with an increased risk of attempting suicide independently of psychopathology, and should be included in suicide risk assessments as these symptoms may provide targets for reducing the risks of suicidal behaviors.