Depression Linked to Bedtimes

Filed under: In The News

Sleeping teen with cell phone

Does your teen have a bedtime? Photo: husin.sani/Flickr

My eight-year-old has had a bad case of teen envy for quite some time. In addition to the fun-filled and exciting lives she is convinced they lead, she thinks that the best part of being a teen is staying up late every night. I don't know where she got the idea that all teenagers are nocturnal creatures, but in some families I guess they are. Many parents, believing that older kids need less sleep than younger ones, allow their teens to stay up as late as they wish.

Not only is the idea that older kids need less sleep erroneous, a new study by Columbia University Medical Center finds that teens who don't get enough sleep may be risking their mental health. This first-of-its-kind study examined the effects of bedtimes on the mental health of children and found that teens who stay up after midnight during the week are 42% more likely to become depressed and 30% more likely to have suicidal thoughts than their peers who go to bed by 10 pm or earlier.

"We feel like we can just eat into our sleep time, but we pay for it in many different ways," says James Gangwisch, lead researcher of the study.

The data used in this study comes from National Institutes of Health surveys from 1994 to 1996. But considering the distractions teens face today -- texting, social networking and gaming -- chances are that many teens are even more sleep-deprived than ever.

Research has shown that although teens need as much as nine hours of sleep per night, they generally get only about 7½. How many hours does your teen get?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.