New research finds that when teens receive an insufficient amount of sleep they show a heightened variability in sadness, anger, energy, and feelings of sleepiness.
Investigators also discovered that a poor night sleep can set up a vicious cycle as nightly fluctuations in sleep among healthy teens predicted a worse mood the next day. Also, a poor mood on any given day predicted unusually bad sleep the next night.
Researchers believe promoting healthy sleep among adolescents could potentially prevent development of more serious mental health problems for some teens.
Investigators determined sleep deficits are more problematic than extra sleep. Results show that adolescents showed increased variability in sadness, anger, and sleepiness when sleep was restricted compared to when sleep was extended. This effect was not influenced by age, sex, race, or the order in which participants underwent the sleep conditions.
“These results are important because variability in mood and emotional dysregulation can interfere with social, school, and behavioral functioning, and may contribute to the development of more severe psychopathology,” said senior author, Dean Beebe, Ph.D., professor of pediatrics at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center and University of Cincinnati College of Medicine.
“The promising aspect of this finding is that sleep can be modified and by promoting healthy sleep we could potentially prevent the development and/or maintenance of more serious mental health problems for some teens.”
The research abstract was published recently in an online supplement of the journal Sleep and was presented in Denver at SLEEP 2016, the 30th Anniversary Meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).
In the study, researchers compared five nights of sleep restriction (6.5 hours in bed) verse five nights of extended sleep (10 hours in bed) among the same participants with individuals having a two day break between the intervention.
Participants consisted of 97 healthy adolescents aged 14-17 (64.9 percent female, 46.9 percent European American).
The adolescents were asked to report on feelings of nervousness, sadness, anger, energy, fatigue, ability to concentrate, and sleepiness each day of the study.
Variability in mood was measured by the standard deviation of these daily mood scores across each condition.