Teens’ Sleep Linked With Mental Health

Adolescent Sleeping on Desk

Teenagers are moody, but teens that lack sleep may be moody for a reason. A recent study indicates that an inadequate amount of sleep may not only be an indicator of, but a contributor to poor mental health for teens and young adults.

Following a mysterious increase of psychological distress in teenagers and young adults over the past few decades, researchers surveyed 19,648 people between the ages of 17 and 24 to assess the connection between an insufficient amount of sleep and mental health. According to their findings, at least 18 percent of those surveyed did not get enough sleep.

Although its primary purpose was to understand the mental health of young adults, the study’s findings correlate with previous studies that have concluded that not getting a good night’s rest may contribute to an assortment of physical and psychological difficulties. While sleep deprivation is a common symptom of many mental disorders, it may also contribute by decreasing a person’s ability to be coordinated, pay attention to important details, and remember new information.

As it turns out, teenagers and those in their mid-20s are experiencing many of the same sleep issues as their adult counterparts. On the whole, teens that lacked sleep reported “psychological distress,” dangerous drinking habits, increased drug use, as well as other forms of intentional self-abuse.  In general, people with inadequate sleep also reported feeling unhappy with their lives.

So what is an appropriate amount of sleep?  For teens and those in their early twenties, the study defines an inadequate amount of sleep as fewer than seven hours.  Though there are competing theories as to the optimal amount of sleep, the general scientific consensus is that adolescents should receive 8-9 hours of sleep per day, while adults should receive seven to eight hours of continuous sleep per day.

The take home message is clear: make getting full and satisfying sleep a priority!  Bear in mind that receiving too much sleep also leads to many of the negative consequences associated with receiving too little.  If you aren’t receiving the right amount of sleep, consider the possibility that your sleep is the cause, or a symptom, of a larger issue.  While sleeping well won’t cure everything, it certainly is a step in the right direction.  Sleep tight!

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