The warning signs of depression among teens may be fairly easy to recite. Among them are withdrawing from friends and favorite activities, tumbling grades, and lack of motivation. But the reasons for teen depression are many and varied. Researchers on two continents conducted two different studies, and both found one of those reasons is lack of sleep.
Researchers at the University of Texas charted 3,000 Houston-area kids between the ages of 11 and 17 for a year. They interviewed them about their mental health and sleep habits at the beginning and end of the study period. The scientists found that sleep deprivation greatly increased the chance of depression among the test subjects.
Scientists at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden, meanwhile, looked at nearly 13,000 adolescents in 11 different European countries. They found that lack of sleep and exercise, combined with heavy use of computers, television and video games, puts teens at just as high a risk of developing serious mental health disorders as do risky activities such as binging on alcohol and drugs.
Teenagers need between nine and 10 hours of sleep per night, but according to recent data, about one in five teens get less than six hours per night. So, if you’re the parent of a teen … what can you do?
It’s difficult to control teenagers, as they’re on the cusp of adulthood, but encouraging regular bedtimes, eliminating electronics from the bedroom at bedtime, and educating the teens to the risks of sleep deprivation is a great start.