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Journal Article


Boafo A, Armitage R, Greenham S, Tavakoli P, Dale A, Nixon A, Lafrenière A, Ray LB, De Koninck J, Robillard R. Sleep Med. 2019; ePub(ePub): ePub.


School of Psychology, University of Ottawa, ON, Canada; Sleep Research Unit, The Royal's Institute of Mental Health Research, Ottawa, ON, Canada. Electronic address:


(Copyright © 2019, Elsevier Publishing)






OBJECTIVE/BACKGROUND: Rates of suicide attempts in Canadian youths are concerning. Adolescence is a sensitive period for the emergence of both sleep and mood problems, two major risk factors for suicidality. This naturalistic study aimed to define the sleep profile of adolescents under the combined influence of suicidality, depression and pharmacotherapy during hospitalization for a suicidal crisis. PATIENTS/METHODS: Seventeen suicidal adolescents (15.0 + 1.2years, 82% females) with major depression were recruited from a Canadian pedopsychiatric inpatient unit. Seventeen non-depressed adolescents were retrospectively collated from another database (15.0 + 1.1years, 83% females). None of the participants had a history of sleep disorders or significant medical conditions.

RESULTS: Compared to controls, suicidal adolescents had a longer sleep onset latency (Z = -4.5, p < 0.001), longer REM latency (Z = -3.2, p = 0.001), higher percentage of NREM1 sleep t(33) = -2.6, p = 0.020), and higher REM density (Z = -2.8, p = 0.004) than controls. Higher REM density correlated with higher CDI-II scores (r = 0.55, p = 0.27) A significant interaction indicated that the two groups had similar NREM3 percentages in the first two-thirds of the night, but that the suicidal group had significantly lower NREM3 percentage than the controls in the last third of the night (F(2,66) = 3.4, p = 0.041).

CONCLUSIONS: Significant sleep abnormalities were observed during hospitalization for a suicidal crisis in a sample of depressed and mostly medicated adolescents. This included sleep initiation and REM sleep latency abnormalities, shallower sleep and high REM density. Future studies should decipher the relative effects of depression, suicidality and medication on sleep. These findings stress the need to address sleep disturbances in the management of suicidality in adolescents.

Copyright © 2019 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

Language: en


Adolescence; Depression; Hospitalisation; Polysomnography; Sleep; Suicide


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