A study that followed over 6,000 teens between the ages of 15 and 19 found that disturbed sleep in adolescents is associated with a higher incidence of symptoms of depression and with greater uncertainty regarding future success. The research was published in the journal SLEEP and was conducted using the Swiss Multicentre Adolescent Survey on Health, which has questions about sleep disruption, depressive symptoms, uncertainty about making it through school and finding work, and how much emotional support participants are receiving from parents, teachers, and peers.
The most notable result of the study is that disrupted sleep is strongly associated with a depressed mood and with doubt about the future, magnifying many teens’ existing anxieties about success and failure.
Teens’ depressive feelings and insecurities about their lives were mitigated by the perception of high levels of support from parents or teachers. Teens who had strong support from either group of adults were found to have less disturbed sleep and, in turn, they suffered less from the effects of lack of sleep. Interestingly, high levels of perceived support from peers did not improve sleep or alleviate the effects of disturbed sleep.
Lead study author and professor of educational psychology, Fred Danner, PhD, commented, “We were surprised that while perceived support and acceptance from parents and teachers had a positive effect, support and acceptance from peers did not. These results confirm the link between sleep quality and depression in a large national sample.”
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) states that around eight percent of adolescents meet the criteria for major depression and that half of all cases of depression—in adolescents and adults—begin by the age of 14. Knowing that increased sleep, in addition to support from the adults present in an adolescent’s life, can limit the symptoms of depression could be important for dealing with adolescents who suffer from depressive disorders.
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