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Suicidal thoughts and behaviors (STBs) are major public health concerns among adolescents, and research is needed to identify how risk is conferred over the short term (hours and days). Sleep problems may be associated with elevated risk for STBs, but less is known about this link in youth over short time periods. The current study utilized a multimodal real-time monitoring approach to examine the association between sleep problems (via daily sleep diary and actigraphy) and next-day suicidal thinking in 48 adolescents with a history of STBs during the month following discharge from acute psychiatric care. Results indicated that specific indices of sleep problems assessed via sleep diary (i.e., greater sleep onset latency, nightmares, ruminative thoughts before sleep) predicted next-day suicidal thinking. These effects were significant even when daily sadness and baseline depression were included in the models. Moreover, several associations between daily-level sleep problems and next-day suicidal thinking were moderated by person-level measures of the construct. In contrast, sleep indices assessed objectively (via actigraphy) were either not related to suicidal thinking or were related in the opposite direction from hypothesized. Together, these findings provide some support for sleep problems as a short-term risk factor for suicidal thinking in high-risk adolescents.
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