Earlier Bedtimes May Help Protect Teens Against Depression and Suicidal thoughts
If you have a teenager at home, here’s another reason to get him or her to bed at a decent hour. New research published in the journal Sleep has found that teens with set bedtimes of midnight or later are 24% more likely to suffer from depression and 20% more likely to have suicidal thoughts than teens who hit the sack by 10 p.m. or even earlier.
This study, which involved over 15,000 middle- and high-school students, strengthens the argument that getting too little sleep may contribute to adolescent depression.
“It is a common perception and societal expectation that adolescents do not need as much sleep as pre-adolescents, yet studies suggest that adolescents may actually require more sleep,” said James Gangwisch, Ph.D., of the New York State Psychiatric Institute and Columbia University Medical Center and lead author of the study.
What appears to matter is the number of sleep hours: “Adolescents with later parental mandated bedtimes went to bed later, got less sleep, and were less likely to get enough sleep,” explains Gangwisch. “Short sleep duration explained the relationship between parental mandated bedtimes and depression, functioning as a risk factor for depression and suicidal ideation.”
So what’s the right amount of sleep? According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teenagers should be getting a little more than nine hours of shuteye a night.
The bottom line: While it’s not uncommon for teens to want to stay up talking on the phone, watching TV, or using the computer, the bedtimes parents and caregivers set do matter. Stick to your rules about an earlier bedtime, and you may be protecting your teen’s mental health. Visit the American Academy of Sleep Medicine for more sleep tips for adolescents.