Unpacking sleep and suicide in older adults in a combined online sample
Golding, S., Nadorff, M.R., Winer, E.S., & Ward, K.C.
Duration of insomnia symptoms and nightmares are related to suicidal risk in young adults independent of current symptoms of insomnia, nightmares, anxiety, depression, and PTSD. However, this relation has yet to be examined among older adults, despite older adults being at higher risk of suicidal behavior. Further, the current study aims to replicate previous research among younger adults showing that insomnia symptoms and nightmares are associated with suicide risk independent of the interpersonal psychological theory of suicide (IPTS).
The present study utilized 167 participants age 55 and older obtained by combining two independent mTurk data collections of adults in the United States.
In the current sample, duration of nightmares was associated with suicide risk in older adults independent of symptoms of current insomnia and nightmares, duration of insomnia, and symptoms of PTSD, anhedonia, and the IPTS.
Our findings suggest that the duration of nightmares (i.e., how long someone has been experiencing nightmares) predict substantial variance in suicide risk among older adults in addition to the risk factors typically examined. Thus, assessment of sleep dysfunction is important when assessing suicide risk among older adults.