Early to Bed Helps Fights Depression in Teens

Advertisement

Adolescents and teens that get to bed at a “decent” time are far less likely to encounter depression or even having suicidal thoughts. In the study done at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, researchers found that children’s guardians who set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24% more likely to suffer from depression and 20% more apt to have thoughts of suicide then kids who went to bed 10:00pm or earlier .

Researchers report in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal SLEEP, that sufficient sleep may offer youngsters some protection from depression and thoughts of suicide. Researchers found that teens who stated they slept five or fewer hours per night were 71% more likely to report depression, and 48% more likely to have thoughts of committing suicide, compared to young people reporting eight hours of sleep. "Our results are consistent with the theory that inadequate sleep is a risk factor for depression," says study researcher James E. Gangwisch, PhD.

Gangwisch and his colleagues studied more than 15,000 students and their parents at US schools from age 12 to 17. The normal sleep duration was seven hours and 53 minutes, against the nine or more hours of nightly sleep recommended for adolescents. Adolescents who went to bed at 10pm or earlier slept on average eight hours and ten minutes which is 33 minutes longer than those who went to bed at 11pm, and 40 minutes more than those who went to bed past midnight.

Advertisement

Gangwisch states, "Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression." Of the parents questioned, 54 per cent of parents said their child had to go to bed by 10pm or earlier on weeknights, 21 per cent reported setting a bedtime of 11pm, and 25 per cent reported setting a bedtime of midnight or later.

Researchers believe that sleep deprivation is directly linked to depression and suicidal thoughts, leaving kids less able to cope with daily stress and with more difficulties in engaging with peers and adults. In addition, less sleep is more likely to make them moody.

The research backs up prior findings that demonstrated having trouble sleeping could lead to illnesses including psychiatric conditions, attention deficit disorder, post traumatic stress and depression. Some scientists suggest that a lack of sleep can cause fluctuations in hormones in the body, including those which relate to how we deal with stress. Researchers also think that dreaming about problems may help the body to process painful memories and promote good mental health.

Gangwisch and researchers conclude that parents of adolescents should set earlier bedtimes to make sure their teens get adequate sleep and avoid depression and thoughts of suicide.

Advertisement