There have now been over 60 studies linking chronic insufficient sleep with suicide, and the most sleep-deprived group in the nation is adolescents. Although electronics, activities, and homework all play a role in adolescent sleep deprivation, the biggest single factor is school start time. The recent Masconomet High School Youth Behavior Risk Survey (YRBS) results show that 1 in 10 Masconomet students engaged in serious thoughts about suicide and 3% attempted suicide in the last year.
The authors of this literature review conclude: “Unlike other suicide risk factors, sleep complaints may be particularly amenable to treatment.”
We can’t change a teen’s past, genetics, geography, or socio-economic status – but we can increase teen sleep (and perhaps save lives) by starting school later.