People with sleep problems are more likely to think about killing themselves or actually make a suicide attempt, according to a study of 5,692 people by researchers at the University of Michigan. The study found that people with two or more sleep problems - such as waking up too early, difficulty falling asleep or lying awake at night - were more than two-and-a-half times more likely to make a suicide attempt. About a third of the volunteers reported at least one type of sleep disturbance over the preceding year. After taking into account substance abuse, depression, age, gender and marital and financial status the biggest risk factor - as far as sleep was concerned - was waking up at least two hours earlier than desired in the morning. People with this problem were twice as likely to have had suicidal thoughts or planned a suicide and nearly three times as likely to have tried to kill themselves. The researchers did not know why there was a link between insomnia and suicide but though that it might be because a lack of sleep affects cognitive function, leading to poorer judgement and increased hopelessness. Previous studies have shown this link in teenagers and people with mental-health problems but this was the first study to show it in the general population.
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