The role of sleep in psychiatric illness in general, and depression and suicidality in particular, is poorly understood and has not been well researched despite the pervasiveness of sleep complaints in these conditions. As an exploratory, hypothesis-generating study, female sexual assault survivors with posttraumatic stress disorder (n = 153) who had enrolled in a nightmare-treatment program were assessed for subjectively determined sleep breathing and sleep movement disorders. Diagnoses of potential disorders were based on clinical practice parameters and research algorithms from thefield of sleep disorders medicine. Potential sleep breathing and sleep movement disorders were present in 80% of the participants (n = 123) and included three subgroups: sleep-disordered breathing only (n = 23); sleep movement disorder only (n = 45); and both sleep disorders (n = 55). Based on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale and Suicide subscale, participants with potential sleep disorders suffered greater depression (Cohen's d = .73-.96; p < .01) and greater suicidality (Cohen's d = .57-.78; p < .05) in comparison to participants without potential sleep disorders. The group with both sleep disorders suffered from the most severe depression and suicidality. A provisional hypothesis is formulated that describes how sleep disorders may exacerbate depression and suicidality through the effects of chronic sleep fragmentation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Psychiatry and Mental health