Sleep deprivation makes teens feel hopeless

In 2014, researchers looked at the Youth Behavior Risk Survey for students in Fairfax, Virginia, in order to understand the relationship between chronic sleep deprivation and mental health. The results were published in Sleepless in Fairfax: The Difference One More Hour of Sleep Can Make for Teen Hopelessness, Suicidal Ideation, and Substance Use

Like 87% of teens throughout America, the students in Fairfax were not getting enough sleep each night. Researchers found that just 1 hour less of sleep was associated with significantly greater odds of feeling hopeless, seriously considering suicide, suicide attempts, and substance abuse. The relationship between sleep duration and suicide was stronger for male teens in their district.graph

The Masconomet YBRS found that 1 in 5 Masconomet students were depressed, 1 in 10 seriously considered suicide, and 3% of students had attempted suicide in the prior year.

The study notes that all adolescents experience a shift in circadian rhythms that makes it more difficult to fall asleep early at night, and critical for them to get more sleep in the early hours of the morning. However, about 40% of teens are “owls” among teens – finding it practically impossible to fall asleep much before midnight under even the most supportive of parental/familial conditions and bedtime routines. They note that this group is particularly at risk of mental health problems.