Increased Risk of Insomnia in Transgender Youths With Mental Health Disorders: Ronald Gavidia, MD, MS


The clinical assistant professor in the division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan spoke about the associations of mental health with insomnia in transgender youth. [WATCH TIME: 5 minutes]

WATCH TIME: 5 minutes

“The transgender population has a very high burden of mental health disorders and there's a strong association between those and the development of insomnia. We believe that as they are starting to transition that may improve their mental health, and that secondarily may decrease insomnia.”

Many young individuals that identify within the transgender population experience several challenges that affect their mental health, which may also impact their sleep health. There has been limited research on sleep disorders in the transgender community and even fewer in relation to mental health disorders. Based on a recent cross sectional study conducted by Ronald Gavidia, MD, MS, findings showed that transgender youth were more likely to experience insomnia, excessive daytime sleepiness, or a diagnosis of some other sleeping disorder in association with poor mental health.1

Data has shown that transgender youth with mood disturbances were twice as likely to have depression and anxiety and 4 times as likely to have ever attempted suicide in comparison with the cisgender population. Therefore, a higher burden of mood symptoms is present within transgender youth as well as a higher burden of sleep disorders.2

Recently, Gavidia, sat down for an interview with NeurologyLive® and talked more about how generalizable the findings from his study are in terms of the transgender youth population in the United States. He also spoke on what future studies should focus on moving forward and the type of study that should be conducted. Gavidia, clinical assistant professor in the division of Sleep Medicine, Department of Neurology, University of Michigan, concluded by adding what clinicians need to be more aware of when caring for patients in this population regarding their sleep health.

1. Hershner S, Jansen EC, Gavidia R, Matlen L, Hoban M, Dunietz GL. Associations Between Transgender Identity, Sleep, Mental Health and Suicidality Among a North American Cohort of College Students. Nat Sci Sleep. 2021;13:383-398. Published 2021 Mar 16. doi:10.2147/NSS.S286131
2. Gavidia R, Whitney DG, Hershner S, Selkie EM, Tauman R, Dunietz GL. Gender identity and transition: relationships with sleep disorders in US youth. J Clin Sleep Med. 2022;18(11):2553-2559. doi:10.5664/jcsm.10158

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