Teen Health 411
Teen Health 411

Sleep, Depression and Suicide

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According to a study by researchers at Columbia University, teens whose parents let them go to bed past midnight were 24 percent more likely to be depressed and 20 percent more likely to have contemplated suicide than peers whose parents set bedtimes at or before 10 p.m.

The results were reported in the journal Sleep, and suggest earlier bedtimes may be protective because they increase the likelihood of getting enough sleep. According to the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention (CDC), about 4,400 Americans between the ages of 10 and 24 commit suicide each year, making it the third-most common cause of death in the age group. This is also to be the group getting the least amount of sleep, which suggests a pretty logical correlation between suicide and lack of sleep.

Data from this study comes from 15,659 U.S. students, who were in grades seven to 12 between 1994 and 1996, and their parents. Seven percent of the teens were found to have depression and 13 percent said they seriously contemplated suicide during the preceding 12 months. The association was stronger for girls and older children.

I would like to point out that the bedtimes we are discussing were set by "parents" and I would like to emphasize that we as parents do have a responsibility for helping our teens protect their health. Just as a social norm reality check - 70% of the teens in this study reported that their bedtime was set by parents!

Photo credit: husin.sani (loved the caption - sleeping teen boy - good!)

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About the Author

Dr. Brown is a developmental psychologist specializing in adolescent health.

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