An NIH study of over 15,000 teenagers shows a link between sleep and mental health. “Teens whose parents let them stay up after midnight on weeknights have a much higher chance of being depressed or suicidal than teens whose parents enforce an earlier bedtime,” notes USA Today’s Greg Toppo.
The findings are the first to examine bedtimes’ effects on kids’ mental health — and the results are noteworthy. Middle- and high-schoolers whose parents don’t require them to be in bed before midnight on school nights are 42% more likely to be depressed than teens whose parents require a 10 p.m. or earlier bedtime. And teens who are allowed to stay up late are 30% more likely to have had suicidal thoughts in the past year. The differences are smaller but still significant — 25% and 20%, respectively — after controlling for age, sex, race and ethnicity.
Going to bed after midnight on weeknights reportedly increases the risk of depression by 42%. The lead researcher, Columbia University Medical Center’s James Gangwisch, says the takeaway for parents is “try as much as possible to sell teenagers on the importance of getting enough sleep.”
Hey, it’s his study, but I have to wonder: Perhaps the difference-maker isn’t the sleep, but having a bedtime? Is it possible that parents who set rules and routines for their children such asregular bedtimes are more involved in their kids’ lives? Maybe their kids are less likely to feel adrift and depressed as a result.