Investigating the link between sleep, chronotype and adolescent self-harm behaviour

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution book


Adolescent self-harm is a major public health concern worldwide and there is an urgent need to identify risk factors for the development of these behaviours. Evidence consistently suggests a link between sleep problems and self-harm behaviours in adolescents. However, very few studies have begun to look at the psychological mechanisms underlying this relationship and, to our knowledge; none have done so in adolescents. As a result, the current investigation intends to address this gap in the literature. The overall objectives of this investigation are twofold:

1) Carry out a detailed prospective examination of the relationship between sleep problems, chronotype and self-harm/suicide behaviours in adolescents.
2) Begin to unravel the mechanism underlying the link between poor sleep and adolescent engagement in self-harm behaviours by exploring the contribution of theoretical constructs from prominent models of such behaviour.

Fifteen and sixteen year old volunteers from secondary schools across Scotland will complete a modified version of the Child and Adolescent Self-Harm in Europe Survey at two time points, six months apart. Measures will assess sleep quality/timing, mood, lifetime engagement in self-harm/suicide behaviours and psychological variables that play a key role in prominent models of suicide behaviour including: defeat, entrapment and hopelessness.

Data will be analysed using both univariate and multivariate logistic regression techniques. It is expected that both sleep quality and timing will be associated with an elevated risk for self-harm, suicidal ideation and suicidal behaviours.

It remains difficult to predict, with acceptable levels of specificity and sensitivity, which young people are at risk of self-harm. Highlighting the contribution of specific sleep parameters, and beginning to explore the mechanisms underlying the link may contribute to an enhanced understanding of adolescent self-harm, inform future research and, in the long term, aid in the development of prevention efforts and theory driven interventions.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationWorld Sleep 2015 - 7th World Congress of the World Sleep Federation, Istanbul
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 31 Oct 2015
EventWorldsleep 2015 - 7th World Congress of the World Sleep Federation - Istanbul, Turkey
Duration: 31 Oct 20153 Nov 2015


ConferenceWorldsleep 2015 - 7th World Congress of the World Sleep Federation


  • sleep problems
  • suicide
  • self-harm
  • adolescent


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