Teens Who Can't Sleep Are More Likely to Self-Harm

Jim Liebelt | Senior Writer, Editor and Researcher for the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University | Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Teens Who Can't Sleep Are More Likely to Self-Harm

*The following is excerpted from an online article from Medical Daily.

A new study conducted by Norwegian researchers found that poor sleep conditions, such as insomnia, increases a teen’s likelihood of self-harming. Under the leadership of psychology specialist Mari Hysing, researchers from Uni Research in Bergen discovered that adolescents who reported experiencing sleeping issues also reported self-harming behavior. Their findings are published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.

For the study, researchers collected self-reports of 10,220 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 years old from Western Norway. These reports included valid information on mental health, including a tendency to self-harm and sleeping habits.

Overall, they found that 702 teens reported engaging in self-harm behaviors, a total of 7.2 percent, with 55 percent of this group claiming to self-harm on more than one occasion. Hysing says that within this group, insomnia and short sleep duration was common, also noting that self-harm happened to be more likely among girls than boys. Most interestingly, though, Hysing’s team found that self-harming was four times higher within this population of teens if they fit all the credentials for insomnia.

Researchers also discovered, unsurprisingly, that adolescents who reported self-harm also had an increased likelihood of depression and ADHD. However, they caution that depression was not always to blame for self-harming; some depressive symptoms yielded self-harming behaviors, but this did not always represent a solid correlation.

While Hysing’s team did not conclude why the link between sleep problems and self-harm seems to exist among teenagers, they suggest that sleep is necessary to cope with stress and subsequent mental health issues. They advise interventions to enforce healthy sleeping habits for teens who are engaging in self-harm behavior as part of treatment.

Source: Medical Daily