A study found a much lower rate of teenage depression in adolescents whose parents set their bedtimes before 10 o'clock, compared to their peers who went to bed after midnight.
Yes, you read correctly--"parents set their bedtimes!"
Fewer hours of sleep per night also correlated with a much higher risk of depression in the adolescents aged 12 through 18 who participated in the study.
Dr. James Gangwisch, who led the study, says the outcomes suggest that lack of sleep affects the development of teenage depression. "Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression," he said.
Some experts believe that teens need a minimum of nine hours sleep nightly. After reading below about the connection between inadequate sleep and teenage depression, you might want to evaluate how your teens and preteens (and even you yourself!) are doing in the sleep department.
Getting enough sleep is certainly a gentler, more natural way to prevent and treat teenage depression than dangerous psychotropic drugs, which have caused so many tragedies. We believe that getting adequate sleep as consistently as possible is extremely helpful in people of all ages, and is certainly a vital component of a healthy lifestyle.
We're not suggesting that enough sleep should be the only weapon in the arsenal against depression. As Sarah Brennan highlights in the article below, a truly healthful diet and enough exercise are also important for emotional health.
There are also many other lifestyle choices that contribute to vibrant emotional health, and can go a long way towards warding off or ameliorating depression when it threatens happiness and stability.
We plan to publish more information on the benefits of adequate, quality sleep for people of all ages in the near future.
Late-night Teens 'Face Greater Depression Risk'
Teenagers need at least nine hours sleep a night, say experts.
Going to bed earlier protects teenagers against depression and suicidal thoughts, New York research suggests.
Of 15,500 12 to 18-year-olds studied, those who went to bed after midnight were 24% more likely to have depression than those who went before 2200 (10 p.m.).
And those who slept fewer than five hours a night had a 71% higher risk of depression than those who slept eight hours, the journal Sleep reports.
It is estimated 80,000 UK children and young people have depression.
The researchers from Columbia University Medical Center in New York looked at data from 15,500 teenagers collected in the 1990s.
One in 15 of those studied were found to have depression.
As well as the higher risk of depression, those who were set a bedtime by their parents of after midnight were 20% more likely to think about suicide than those whose bedtime was 2200 (10 p.m.) or earlier.
Those who had less than five hours sleep a night were thought to have a 48% higher risk of suicidal thoughts compared with those who had eight hours of sleep.
Teenagers who reported they "usually get enough sleep" were 65% less likely to be depressed.
Depression and suicidal thoughts were also more likely in girls, older teenagers and in those who had a lower self-perception of how much parents care about them.
Most of the parents of the adolescents in the study set a bedtime of 2200 (10 p.m.) or earlier.
A quarter set a bedtime of midnight or later.
On average the teenagers were having seven hours and 53 minutes sleep a night--less than the nine hours recommended at that age.
Study leader Dr. James Gangwisch said although it was possible that youngsters with depression struggle to sleep, the fact that parental set bedtimes were linked with depression suggests that a lack of sleep is somehow underpinning the development of the condition.
He said a lack of sleep could affect emotional brain responses and lead to moodiness that hindered the ability to cope with daily stresses.
This moodiness could affect judgment, concentration and impulse control.
"Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression," he added.
Sarah Brennan, chief executive at the mental health charity YoungMinds, said: "Enough sleep, good food and regular exercise are all essential to stay emotionally healthy.
"Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer with depression, yet we are still failing to provide our young people with the help and support to cope with it and prevent it.
"Providing parents with information about how to look after your body, for example by getting enough sleep, and how to get help if they are worried about their teenager, will ensure problems are tackled early and prevent serious mental health conditions such as depression."
More on Teenage Depression: "They need that rest time."
The following is a transcript of an audio file with comments on the link between teenage depression and inadequate sleep from Dr. James Gangwisch, which you can listen to at the BBC link provided below if you prefer.
They say that teenagers need about 9 hours of sleep a night, and in our study we found that teenagers were only getting under 8 hours per night -- so, more than an hour less than what they really need. A common conception is that teenagers don't need as much sleep as preadolescents, but in reality that's not true, and in fact some studies have even shown that they need even more sleep than preadolescents. They’re still growing. They're growing really fast; their brains are still growing, and they need that rest time to accomplish all that.
"We found that adolescents whose parents set later bedtimes--and therefore the adolescents had the freedom to go to bed later--they were at higher risk for depression and for suicidal thoughts. You would expect that if people are not getting enough sleep then it would make them feel tired, lethargic, feel less motivated, have difficulty concentrating, and those are all symptoms of depression. A lot of people don’t put a high enough priority on getting enough sleep and it can build up over time.