Science: Good Sleep Lowers Suicide Risk Among Youth
written by/ July 27, 2022
A recent study found that quality sleep helps prevent suicidal thoughts in young people.
It is well-known that adolescents and young adults contemplate suicide a lot more than older generations — a cognitive phenomenon known as suicidal ideation (SI). As a matter of fact, suicide is the second most common cause of mortality for young adults and adolescents in the US.
Yet, a new Rutgers University study, led by Jessica L. Hamilton, Ph.D. of the Department of Psychology at Rutgers, suggests we can lower said figures by improving sleep. Namely, sleep promotes emotional control and also boosts positive affective reactivity — the level of emotional reaction people exhibit during specific events.
The study was conducted in a predominantly female (75%) study group of 59 participants aged 13 to 23 years, 44% of which had already attempted suicide. Moreover, researchers surveyed their sleeping patterns, SI, and affective reactivity through lengthy questionnaires.
More precisely, participants were asked to note the level of their negative or positive thoughts related to events from 0 to 100. The results found that sleep quality primarily affected affective reactivity, with some minor personal differences.
In other words, subjects that didn’t get enough sleep were less likely to react positively to positive interpersonal events. Conversely, well-rested participants were more likely to react positively to desired events and had fewer negative overreactions.
Besides the sleep duration, the doze-off schedule also proved essential in managing SI. In fact, those who went to bed later had fewer positive reactions to undesired events and more negative ones — hence why the team deduced cognitive behavioral methods could help lower suicidal tendencies.