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Kid Companions- Chewelry: Teens Lack of Sleep May Be Cause of Depression

December 22, 2010

Teens Lack of Sleep May Be Cause of Depression

Lack of sleep is not just a symptom of Depression but studies show it can either cause or worsen it. Most teens suffer from inadequate sleep, and the consequences can be serious to their health, to their education, to their safety and to their social life. What can parents do to help their teens?

In the Jan. 1, 2010 issue of SLEEP, researchers at Columbia University found a strong link between lack of sleep and depressive symptoms in adolescents. SLEEP is the official publication of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies. “In addition to depression, adolescents with later bedtimes also had a greater risk of having suicidal thoughts,” James Gangwisch, PhD, of Columbia University in New York City, and colleagues reported in the study.

James Gangwisch, a sleep epidemiologist at Columbia University and lead author on the Sleep study, says the study supports the idea that there is a relationship between sleep and mood. “What else we see here is the importance of parents working with adolescents to set reasonable bedtimes for them,” says Gangwisch. “Whether parents think so or not, setting earlier bedtimes helps and seems to have a protective effect.”

How Much Sleep Do Teens Need
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests at least nine hours a night for high-schoolers. The Columbia University study included 15,659 children and teens in grades seven through 12. This study found that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24% more likely to suffer from depression than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10:00 PM or earlier.

Why Is It So Difficult For Teens To Fall Asleep Earlier
One factor is that there is a change in the circadian rhythm in teens due to the fact that the brain hormone melatonin is produced later at night for teens than it is for kids and adults. This can make it harder for teens to fall asleep early. During teen years, the biological clock in the brain naturally resets to a later time. The pineal gland releases melatonin later at night and this causes teens to fall asleep later. Then, in the morning, a teenager's body clock is likely to still be producing the nighttime hormones making it difficult for them to want to get up.

Does Catching Up On Lost Sleep On Weekends Work
Some parents and teens believe that the teen can catch up on lost sleep on the weekends. However, this just makes the problem of getting into a routine to get adequate hours of sleep worst. Perhaps a late Friday night could be permitted and then keeping to the schedule the other days. If Friday, Saturday and Sunday bedtimes and wakeup times are not kept, on Monday mornings teens function like we do with jet lag. On Mondays, many teens complain of headaches and are usually out of sorts due to their irregular, weekend sleep patterns.

Parents and teachers often complain how moody and unfocused teens are. So the remedy for teenage blues is not found in a magic pill but in a magic bed. However if your teen still cannot sleep after adjusting his bedtime, do seek professional help. Sleep deprivation is best treated early before depression sets in.

How do you help your teen to get his required hours of quality sleep?

Related post: How Can I Help My Teen Fall Asleep Earlier and Easier

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