One bad night’s sleep could push depressed people to suicide

It’s common knowledge that a good night’s sleep helps our body recover at the end of a long day. But did you know that getting enough sleep at night can help curb suicidal thoughts among people with depression?

According to a breakthrough study by researchers from the University of Manchester, “a bad night’s sleep is associated with suicidal thoughts the next day in people with depression.”

The paper, which was titled “Short sleep duration and poor sleep quality predict next-day suicidal ideation: An ecological momentary assessment study,” was published in Psychological Medicine.

Donna Littlewood, a researcher from the university, cautioned that the results of her observational study involving patients with depression and suicidal thoughts emphasize the need for treatment of sleep disorders.

She noted that effective treatment can specifically benefit individuals diagnosed with mental health problems.

For the study, 51 participants were provided with monitoring Actigraph watches. The patients were also instructed to write entries in a sleep diary along accomplishing assessments of their suicidal thoughts within seven days.

Data from the study determined that both poor sleep quality and short sleep duration were linked to higher feelings of suicidal thoughts the following day. In fact, this connection between poor sleep and more suicidal thoughts persisted even after the researchers factored in other symptoms of depression and anxiety. (Related: Not getting enough sleep can raise your risk of depression by 80%.)

However, the scientists noted that there was no clear link between suicidal thoughts during the day and poor sleep the next night.

Littlewood explained that suicidal thoughts are often the result of various factors. For the study, the researchers focused on the specific role of sleep disturbance. She continued that sleep is crucial to our overall physical and mental health.

Sleeping at night helps our bodies recover from the physical and mental exertion of the day. Littlewood warned that not getting enough sleep can severely impact our overall health.

Littlewood shared that a lot of individuals who have mental health problems also struggle with sleep problems. She added that poor sleep can be addressed with effective psychological and pharmacological interventions.

Littlewood concluded, “This study highlights that it is important for clinicians to provide treatment for sleep problems, when working with people who experience suicidal thoughts.”

Tips to help you sleep better at night

To have a good night’s sleep, practice these morning habits:

  1. Don’t nap during the day.
  2. Eat your meals regularly.
  3. Engage in regular physical activities, like exercise or sports, during the day. However, avoid vigorous activities at least four hours before you go to sleep because they can keep you awake.
  4. Spend some time in the sunshine. This helps “stabilize your body’s sleep and wake cycles.”
  5. Limit your caffeine intake and try to avoid chocolate, coffee, cola, or tea. Avoid smoking because nicotine is another stimulant that may keep you awake.

If you’re still having trouble sleeping, make sure your sleeping area is comfortable. Check out these tips below so you can sleep better at night:

  • If lights and noises keep you up, use a sleep mask and some earplugs.
  • If you’re kept awake by other noises around your house, try using a “white noise” machine. It can help block out other sounds so you can fall asleep.
  • Keep noisy appliances, such as a computer, radio, or TV, in other rooms.
  • Keep the bedroom at a comfortable temperature, preferably slightly cool. Make sure the room is well-ventilated.
  • Keep your bedroom as dark as possible. If the room is too bright, get some heavy curtains or blinds to block out any light.
  • Limit the activities in your bedroom to sex and sleep. Leave the television and other activities for other rooms in your house.
  • Only sleep in your bedroom. Don’t take naps in other room in your house.
  • Sleep on a comfortable mattress.

You can learn more about how a good night’s sleep can benefit your mental health at

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