You might be at even greater risk if you keep waking up at night.
The researchers surveyed Army members on their mental health and sleep habits, breaking up insomnia into the following categories: overall insomnia, trouble falling asleep, trouble staying asleep, waking up too early from sleep, and frequently waking up at night.
They found that 13 percent of those who struggled with insomnia reported at least one type of suicidal ideation—thoughts of killing yourself, having a plan to commit suicide, intentions of killing yourself, wishing you were dead, or telling people you want to commit suicide.
That’s compared to 2 percent of those who slept soundly.
Even adjusting for depression and anxiety—both of which play a role in suicidal thoughts—they found that people with insomnia were three times more likely to report thoughts of death or suicide within the past 30 days.
Plus, it seems like how you struggle with insomnia plays a role, too: Frequently waking up throughout the night was the only type of insomnia that was associated with four out of the five types of suicidal ideation.
The link may be due to something researcher Michael Perlis, Ph.D., calls the “sleep of reason hypothesis.”
The risk of suicide is highest when someone lies awake at night, when their ability to reason, think, and control impulses are at the lowest, he explains in a news release.
This can foster suicidal ideations in people who are already susceptible to it.
It’s not clear from this study if treating insomnia can reduce those thoughts.