Bio

Academic Appointments


  • Assistant Professor, Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences

Boards, Advisory Committees, Professional Organizations


  • Board Member, Bridge Rail Foundation (BRF) (2013 - Present)

Research & Scholarship

Clinical Trials


  • A Brief Behavioral Sleep Intervention for Depression Among Military Veterans Recruiting

    This study investigates the impact of brief behavioral insomnia treatment on depressive symptoms among military veterans.

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  • A Sleep-Oriented Intervention for Suicidal Behaviors Recruiting

    An open-label trial to investigate the use of a behavioral insomnia treatment for suicidal ideation.

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Teaching

2015-16 Courses


Publications

All Publications


  • Sleep Disturbances and Suicide Risk. Sleep medicine clinics Bernert, R. A., Nadorff, M. R. 2015; 10 (1): 35-39

    Abstract

    Suicide occurs in the presence of psychiatric illness, and is associated with biological, psychological, and social risk factors. Insomnia symptoms and nightmares appear to present elevated risk for suicidal ideation, attempts, and death by suicide. Failure to account for the presence of psychopathology and frequent use of single item assessments of sleep and suicidal ideation are common methodological problems in this literature. Preliminary research, addressing these issues, suggests that subjective sleep complaints may confer independent risk for suicidal behaviors.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jsmc.2014.11.004

    View details for PubMedID 26055671

  • Sleep disturbances as an evidence-based suicide risk factor. Current psychiatry reports Bernert, R. A., Kim, J. S., Iwata, N. G., Perlis, M. L. 2015; 17 (3): 554-?

    Abstract

    Increasing research indicates that sleep disturbances may confer increased risk for suicidal behaviors, including suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and death by suicide. Despite increased investigation, a number of methodological problems present important limitations to the validity and generalizability of findings in this area, which warrant additional focus. To evaluate and delineate sleep disturbances as an evidence-based suicide risk factor, a systematic review of the extant literature was conducted with methodological considerations as a central focus. The following methodologic criteria were required for inclusion: the report (1) evaluated an index of sleep disturbance; (2) examined an outcome measure for suicidal behavior; (3) adjusted for presence of a depression diagnosis or depression severity, as a covariate; and (4) represented an original investigation as opposed to a chart review. Reports meeting inclusion criteria were further classified and reviewed according to: study design and timeframe; sample type and size; sleep disturbance, suicide risk, and depression covariate assessment measure(s); and presence of positive versus negative findings. Based on keyword search, the following search engines were used: PubMed and PsycINFO. Search criteria generated N = 82 articles representing original investigations focused on sleep disturbances and suicide outcomes. Of these, N = 18 met inclusion criteria for review based on systematic analysis. Of the reports identified, N = 18 evaluated insomnia or poor sleep quality symptoms, whereas N = 8 assessed nightmares in association with suicide risk. Despite considerable differences in study designs, samples, and assessment techniques, the comparison of such reports indicates preliminary, converging evidence for sleep disturbances as an empirical risk factor for suicidal behaviors, while highlighting important, future directions for increased investigation.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11920-015-0554-4

    View details for PubMedID 25698339

  • The prediction of study-emergent suicidal ideation in bipolar disorder: a pilot study using ecological momentary assessment data BIPOLAR DISORDERS Thompson, W. K., Gershon, A., O'Hara, R., Bernert, R. A., Depp, C. A. 2014; 16 (7): 669-677

    View details for DOI 10.1111/bdi.12218

    View details for Web of Science ID 000344373100001

  • Association of poor subjective sleep quality with risk for death by suicide during a 10-year period: a longitudinal, population-based study of late life. JAMA psychiatry Bernert, R. A., Turvey, C. L., Conwell, Y., Joiner, T. E. 2014; 71 (10): 1129-1137

    Abstract

    Older adults have high rates of sleep disturbance, die by suicide at disproportionately higher rates compared with other age groups, and tend to visit their physician in the weeks preceding suicide death. To our knowledge, to date, no study has examined disturbed sleep as an independent risk factor for late-life suicide.To examine the relative independent risk for suicide associated with poor subjective sleep quality in a population-based study of older adults during a 10-year observation period.A longitudinal case-control cohort study of late-life suicide among a multisite, population-based community sample of older adults participating in the Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly. Of 14 456 community older adults sampled, 400 control subjects were matched (on age, sex, and study site) to 20 suicide decedents.Primary measures included the Sleep Quality Index, the Center for Epidemiologic Studies-Depression Scale, and vital statistics.Hierarchical logistic regressions revealed that poor sleep quality at baseline was significantly associated with increased risk for suicide (odds ratio [OR], 1.39; 95% CI, 1.14-1.69; P < .001) by 10 follow-up years. In addition, 2 sleep items were individually associated with elevated risk for suicide at 10-year follow-up: difficulty falling asleep (OR, 2.24; 95% CI, 1.27-3.93; P < .01) and nonrestorative sleep (OR, 2.17; 95% CI, 1.28-3.67; P < .01). Controlling for depressive symptoms, baseline self-reported sleep quality was associated with increased risk for death by suicide (OR, 1.30; 95% CI, 1.04-1.63; P < .05).Our results indicate that poor subjective sleep quality is associated with increased risk for death by suicide 10 years later, even after adjustment for depressive symptoms. Disturbed sleep appears to confer considerable risk, independent of depressed mood, for the most severe suicidal behaviors and may warrant inclusion in suicide risk assessment frameworks to enhance detection of risk and intervention opportunity in late life.

    View details for DOI 10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2014.1126

    View details for PubMedID 25133759

  • A Review of Multidisciplinary Clinical Practice Guidelines in Suicide Prevention: Toward an Emerging Standard in Suicide Risk Assessment and Management, Training and Practice ACADEMIC PSYCHIATRY Bernert, R. A., Hom, M. A., Roberts, L. W. 2014; 38 (5): 585-592
  • Association of Poor Subjective Sleep Quality With Risk for Death by Suicide During a 10-Year Period A Longitudinal, Population-Based Study of Late Life JAMA PSYCHIATRY Bernert, R. A., Turvey, C. L., Conwell, Y., Joiner, T. E. 2014; 71 (10): 1129-1137
  • Obsessive compulsive symptoms and sleep difficulties: Exploring the unique relationship between insomnia and obsessions JOURNAL OF PSYCHIATRIC RESEARCH Timpano, K. R., Carbonella, J. Y., Bernert, R. A., Schmidt, N. B. 2014; 57: 101-107

    Abstract

    Sleep complaints have been linked with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), though there is a dearth of research exploring the association between a range of disturbed sleep indicators and obsessive compulsive symptoms (OCS). Two separate studies were conducted to rigorously investigate this relationship in further detail, considering a number of different sleep indices and also the heterogeneous nature of OCS.Study 1 (n = 167) examined the relationship between OCS and the gold standard self-report assessments for delayed bedtime, sleep quality, nightmares, and insomnia symptoms. Study 2 (n = 352) replicated the primary findings from Study 1 in an independent sample and with an alternative measure of OCD, which takes into account the different OCS dimensions.Results revealed a significant, independent link between obsessions and insomnia symptoms, but not between insomnia and compulsions. When examining the different OCS dimensions, insomnia was again found to bear a specific relationship to obsessions, above and beyond that with the other dimensions. Although depression is often highly comorbid with both OCD and sleep disturbances, depressive symptoms did not explain the OCS-sleep relationship in either study, suggesting a unique association between obsessions and insomnia.Findings indicate that high levels of intrusive thoughts exhibit a specific association with insomnia symptoms-one that is not observed with other OCS. Future research may help elucidate the mechanisms and causal nature of this relationship.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2014.06.021

    View details for Web of Science ID 000341550100013

    View details for PubMedID 25038630

  • Eating disorder and obsessive-compulsive symptoms in a sample of bulimic women: Perfectionism as a mediating factor PERSONALITY AND INDIVIDUAL DIFFERENCES Bernert, R. A., Timpano, K. R., Peterson, C. B., Crow, S. J., Bardone-Cone, A. M., Le Grange, D., Klein, M., Crosby, R. D., Mitchell, J. E., Wonderlich, S. A., Joiner, T. E. 2013; 54 (2): 231-235
  • Clinical significance of night-to-night sleep variability in insomnia SLEEP MEDICINE Suh, S., Nowakowski, S., Bernert, R. A., Ong, J. C., Siebern, A. T., Dowdle, C. L., Manber, R. 2012; 13 (5): 469-475

    Abstract

    To evaluate the clinical relevance of night-to-night variability of sleep schedules and insomnia symptoms.The sample consisted of 455 patients (193 men, mean age=48) seeking treatment for insomnia in a sleep medicine clinic. All participants received group cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI). Variability in sleep parameters was assessed using sleep diary data. Two composite scores were computed, a behavioral schedule composite score (BCS) and insomnia symptom composite score (ICS). The Insomnia Severity Index, the Beck Depression Inventory, and the Morningness-Eveningness Composite Scale were administered at baseline and post-treatment.Results revealed that greater BCS scores were significantly associated with younger age, eveningness chronotype, and greater depression severity (p<0.001). Both depression severity and eveningness chronotype independently predicted variability in sleep schedules (p<0.001). Finally, CBTI resulted in reduced sleep variability for all sleep diary variables except bedtime. Post-treatment symptom reductions in depression severity were greater among those with high versus low baseline BCS scores (p<0.001).Results suggest that variability in sleep schedules predict reduction in insomnia and depressive severity following group CBTI. Schedule variability may be particularly important to assess and address among patients with high depression symptoms and those with the evening chronotype.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.sleep.2011.10.034

    View details for Web of Science ID 000303346800004

    View details for PubMedID 22357064

  • Sleep problems outperform depression and hopelessness as cross-sectional and longitudinal predictors of suicidal ideation and behavior in young adults in the military JOURNAL OF AFFECTIVE DISORDERS Ribeiro, J. D., Pease, J. L., Gutierrez, P. M., Silva, C., Bernert, R. A., Rudd, M. D., Joiner, T. E. 2012; 136 (3): 743-750

    Abstract

    Sleep problems appear to represent an underappreciated and important warning sign and risk factor for suicidal behaviors. Given past research indicating that disturbed sleep may confer such risk independent of depressed mood, in the present report we compared self-reported insomnia symptoms to several more traditional, well-established suicide risk factors: depression severity, hopelessness, PTSD diagnosis, as well as anxiety, drug abuse, and alcohol abuse symptoms.Using multiple regression, we examined the cross-sectional and longitudinal relationships between insomnia symptoms and suicidal ideation and behavior, controlling for depressive symptom severity, hopelessness, PTSD diagnosis, anxiety symptoms, and drug and alcohol abuse symptoms in a sample of military personnel (N=311).In support of a priori hypotheses, self-reported insomnia symptoms were cross-sectionally associated with suicidal ideation, even after accounting for symptoms of depression, hopelessness, PTSD diagnosis, anxiety symptoms and drug and alcohol abuse. Self-reported insomnia symptoms also predicted suicide attempts prospectively at one-month follow up at the level of a non-significant trend, when controlling for baseline self-reported insomnia symptoms, depression, hopelessness, PTSD diagnosis and anxiety, drug and alcohol abuse symptoms. Insomnia symptoms were unique predictors of suicide attempt longitudinally when only baseline self-reported insomnia symptoms, depressive symptoms and hopelessness were controlled.The assessment of insomnia symptoms consisted of only three self-report items. Findings may not generalize outside of populations at severe suicide risk.These findings suggest that insomnia symptoms may be an important target for suicide risk assessment and the treatment development of interventions to prevent suicide.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jad.2011.09.049

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301996000071

    View details for PubMedID 22032872

  • CBT for Insomnia in Patients with High and Low Depressive Symptom Severity: Adherence and Clinical Outcomes JOURNAL OF CLINICAL SLEEP MEDICINE Manber, R., Bernert, R. A., Suh, S., Nowakowski, S., Siebern, A. T., Ong, J. C. 2011; 7 (6): 645-652

    Abstract

    To evaluate whether depressive symptom severity leads to poorer response and perceived adherence to cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia (CBTI) and to examine the impact of CBTI on well-being, depressive symptom severity, and suicidal ideation.Pre- to posttreatment case replication series comparing low depression (LowDep) and high depression (HiDep) groups (based on a cutoff of 14 on the Beck Depression Inventory [BDI]).127 men and 174 women referred for the treatment of insomnia.Seven sessions of group CBTI.Improvement in the insomnia severity, perceived energy, productivity, self-esteem, other aspects of wellbeing, and overall treatment satisfaction did not differ between the HiDep and LowDep groups (p > 0.14). HiDep patients reported lower adherence to a fixed rise time, restricting time in bed, and changing expectations about sleep (p < 0.05). HiDep participants experienced significant reductions in BDI, after removing the sleep item. Levels of suicidal ideation dropped significantly among patients with pretreatment elevations (p < 0.0001).Results suggest that pre- to post CBTI improvements in insomnia symptoms, perceived energy, productivity, self-esteem, and other aspects of well-being were similar among patients with and without elevation in depressive symptom severity. Thus, the benefits of CBTI extend beyond insomnia and include improvements in non-sleep outcomes, such as overall well-being and depressive symptom severity, including suicidal ideation, among patients with baseline elevations. Results identify aspects of CBTI that may merit additional attention to further improve outcomes among patients with insomnia and elevated depressive symptom severity.

    View details for DOI 10.5664/jcsm.1472

    View details for Web of Science ID 000300161900012

    View details for PubMedID 22171204