A new study has found that teens who suffer from sleep difficulties, such as insomnia and short sleep duration, are significantly more likely to engage in self-harm compared to teens with healthy sleep patterns.
The findings suggest that sleep interventions be included in treatments for teens with self-harming behaviors.
The researchers conducted a large population-based study using data from the [email protected] survey. The data included self-reports from 10,220 teenagers who were 16-19 years of age in Western Norway. They answered questions on mental health and completed a comprehensive assessment of sleep and self-harm.
A total of 702 (7.2 percent) teen respondents met the criteria for self-harm, and more than half (55 percent) of those reported harming themselves on two or more occasions.
The risk of self-harming was four times higher among the 16-19 years old adolescents who fulfilled the diagnostic criteria for insomnia. The researchers also found that self-harming was more common in girls than boys, and that cutting was the most prevalent type of self-harm behavior, Hysing said.
Several types of sleeping problems were found to be linked consistently to self-harming behavior.
“Insomnia, short sleep duration, long sleep onset latency, wake after sleep onset as well as large differences between weekdays versus weekends, yielded higher odds of self-harm consistent with a dose-response relationship,” said the researchers.
However, having symptoms of ADHD remained significant even in the fully adjusted analyses, the researchers emphasize.
To help prevent teens from engaging in self-harming behaviors, the researchers suggest interventions that incorporate healthy sleeping habits as a part of the treatment.
The research findings are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.
This article first appeared on ‘Psych Central’ on 30 July 2015.