Teenagers who stay up late have a higher chance of being depressed or suicidal than teens who go to bed at an earlier time set by their parents.
“It is a common perception and societal expectation that adolescents do not need as much sleep as pre-adolescents, yet studies suggests that adolescents may actually require more sleep,” said lead research James Gangwisch, of Columbia University.
“Studies have found that adolescents do not go to bed early enough to compensate for earlier school start times, and transitions to earlier school start times have been shown to be associated with significant sleep deprivation.”
Gangwisch and his colleagues examined data from 15,659 adolescents and their parents who took part in a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study of adolescent health between 1994 and 1996.
Teenagers with parental-mandated bedtimes at midnight or later were 25 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts compared with teens who had parent-mandated bedtimes of 10:00 p.m. or earlier. Parent-mandated bedtime teens slept for an average of 8 hours and 10 minutes, while those who were allowed to stay up past midnight slept for approximately 7 and a half hours.
A total of 1,143 teens (7.3 percent) in the study suffered from depression and 2,038 (13 percent) had suicidal thoughts.
According to Gangwisch, the study supports the argument that inadequate sleep could lead to depression.
“Adolescents with later parental-mandated bedtimes went to bed later, got less sleep, and were less likely to get enough sleep. Short sleep duration explained the relationship between parental-mandated bedtimes and depression, functioning as a risk factor for depression and suicidal ideation.”
“Try as much as possible to sell teenagers on the importance of getting enough sleep,” Gangwisch added.
Previous research had established a connection between teens getting less sleep and their feeling depressed or suicidal.
The study was presented at SLEEP 2009, the 23rd Annual Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies.
Source: Columbia University