The association between sleep disturbances and suicidal behaviors in patients with psychiatric diagnoses: A systematic review and meta-analysis

Shaista Malik, Amrit Kanwar, Leslie A. Sim, Larry J. Prokop, Zhen Wang, Khalid Benkhadra, Mohammad Hassan Murad

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

91 Scopus citations


Background: Identifying patients with increased risk of suicidal behaviors is a constant challenge and concern for clinicians caring for patients with psychiatric conditions. We conducted a systematic review to assess the association between suicidal behaviors and sleep disturbances in psychiatric patients. Methods: A systematic literature search of Ovid Medline In-Process & Other Non-Indexed Citations, Ovid MEDLINE, Ovid EMBASE, Ovid PsycInfo, Ovid Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews, Ovid Cochrane Central Register of Controlled Trials, and Scopus was conducted using earliest inclusive dates to 28 June 2013. Eligible studies were comparative observational studies that reported sleep disturbances in psychiatric patients and the outcome of interest (any type of suicidal behaviors). Pairs of reviewers extracted descriptive data, study quality, and outcomes. Odds ratios (OR) and 95% confidence intervals (CI) were pooled across studies using the random-effects model. Newcastle-Ottawa scale was used to critically appraise study quality.Results: Nineteen studies met the inclusion criteria. Compared to those without sleep disturbances, patients with psychiatric diagnoses and co-morbid sleep disturbances were significantly more likely to report suicidal behaviors (OR = 1.99, 95% CI 1.72, 2.30, P <0.001). The association was also demonstrated across several psychiatric conditions including depression (OR = 3.05, 95% CI 2.07, 4.48, P <0.001), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) (OR = 2.56, 95% CI 1.91, 3.43, P <0.001), panic disorder (OR = 3.22, 95% CI 1.09, 9.45, P = 0.03), and schizophrenia (OR = 12.66, 95% CI 1.40, 114.44, P = 0.02). In subgroup analysis based on the type of sleep disorder, we also found suicidal behavior to be significantly associated with the presence of insomnia, parasomnias, and sleep-related breathing disorders, but not hypersomnias. Conclusions: This systematic review and meta-analysis suggests that in patients with psychiatric diagnoses, sleep disturbances are associated with the increased risk of suicidal behaviors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number18
JournalSystematic reviews
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 25 2014


  • Meta-analysis
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Suicidal behaviors
  • Systematic reviews

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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