Subjective and objective sleep and self-harm behaviors in young children: A general population study

Ravi Singareddy, Venkatesh Basappa Krishnamurthy, Alexandros Vgontzas, Julio Fernandez-Mendoza, Susan Calhoun, Michele L. Shaffer, Edward Bixler

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


Significant association between sleep disturbances and suicidal ideation and/or attempts is reported in adults and adolescents. However, there is paucity of studies exploring the association between sleep and self-harm behaviors (SHB) in young children and are limited to only subjective sleep measures. We examined the association between SHB and both subjective and objective sleep in a population-based sample of 5-12. yr old. Parents of every student in 3 local school (K-5) districts (n=7312) was sent a screening questionnaire. Randomly selected children from this sample underwent a comprehensive history, physical examination, a 9-h overnight polysomnogram and completed several questionnaires. Among the final sample (n=693), 27 children had SHB with adjusted prevalence of 3%. There was no difference in age, gender, obesity, or socioeconomic status in subjects with or without SHB. Significantly more children with SHB had subjective sleep difficulty and depression. Difficulty maintaining sleep and frequent nightmares were associated with SHB independent of depression or demographics. Polysomnographic %REM-sleep was significantly higher in the SHB group after adjusting for demographics and depression. These data indicate that parent reported sleep disturbances are independently associated with SHB. It is possible that higher REM-sleep is a non-invasive biomarker for risk of self-harm behaviors in young children.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)549-553
Number of pages5
JournalPsychiatry Research
Issue number3
StatePublished - Oct 30 2013

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Biological Psychiatry


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