Teens With Earlier Bedtimes Are Less Likely to Be Depressed, Study Says

Filed under: In The News, Research Reveals: Teens

Sleeping early: The key to happiness? Credit: Getty Images


Wondering how to deal with a moody and depressed teenager? Give them an earlier bedtime.

In a study reported in the journal Sleep, researchers at Columbia University Medical Center report teenagers who didn't get enough sleep were more likely to be depressed. They looked at nearly 16,000 children in grades seven to 12, and found those who went to bed at midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from the blues than those who had bedtimes set at 10 p.m. or earlier. Teens who stayed up late also were 20 percent more likely to have suicidal thoughts.
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Of course, most teenagers would rather stay up into the wee hours of the night, but with early school starts it can be hard to get the nine hours of sleep the article says most teenagers need. That's where parental guidance comes in: Nearly 70 percent of the teenagers surveyed said they went to bed at or before the time set by their parents, the report states.

"The biggest question I get from parents is how to get their teenagers to bed earlier," James Gangwisch, the study's lead author and assistant professor in Columbia's department of psychology, says in a statement. "I think it's a matter of motivating teenagers to see the benefits. I'd encourage teenagers to try a few nights of eight or nine hours of sleep and see if they feel better during the day."

The average teenager in the study was sleeping just under eight hours a night, but those who had earlier bedtimes got more sleep than those with late bedtimes. For kids whose parents insisted on the lights being out by midnight, the mean amount of nightly sleep was seven and a half hours; for those who had to be in bed by 10 p.m. or earlier, it was eight hours and 10 minutes.

The link between lack of sleep and depression has been established in earlier studies, but this study shows the positive influence parental bedtimes can have on the amount of sleep teens get, according to the report.

Related: Is It Really ADHD, or Just a Lack of Sleep?

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