December 22, 2014
Science Daily/American Academy of Sleep Medicine
Insomnia symptoms mediate the relationship between alcohol use and suicide risk, and that this mediation is moderated by gender, a new study demonstrates for the first time. The study suggests that the targeted assessment and treatment of specific sleep problems may reduce the risk of suicide among those who use alcohol.
The study found that alcohol use was significantly associated with suicide risk among women. However, further analysis revealed that insomnia symptoms explained a significant proportion of the relationship between alcohol and suicide risk. For men, there was no direct effect of alcohol use on suicide risk, but there was a significant indirect effect of alcohol use increasing suicide risk through insomnia symptoms.
"These results are important as they help demonstrate that alcohol use is associated with an increase in suicide risk, and that this increase may be partially due to insomnia symptoms," said principal investigator Michael Nadorff, PhD, assistant professor at Mississippi State University in Starkville, Miss. "By better understanding this relationship, and the mechanisms associated with increased risk, we can better design interventions to reduce suicide risk."
According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, about 10 percent of people have chronic insomnia disorder, which involves a sleep disturbance and associated daytime symptoms that have been present for at least three months. About 15 to 20 percent of adults have short-term insomnia disorder. Both types of insomnia are more common in women than in men.