Insufficient sleep can negatively affect teenagers' mental health

As families settle back into a new school year, sleep experts at the University of South Australia are reminding parents about the importance of teenagers getting enough sleep, cautioning them that insufficient sleep can negatively affect their mental health.

In a new research paper, UniSA sleep experts Dr Alex Agostini and Dr Stephanie Centofanti confirm that sleep is intrinsically linked to mental health, but is commonly overlooked by health practitioners as a contributing factor.

Dr Agostini says it's imperative that parents and medical practitioners are aware of the bi-directional relationship between sleep and mental health, particularly across the teenage years.

Getting enough sleep is important for all of us - it helps our physical and mental health, boosts our immunity, and ensures we can function well on a daily basis.

But for teenagers, sleep is especially critical because they're at an age where they're going through a whole range of physical, social, and developmental changes, all of which depend on enough sleep.

Research shows that teenagers need at least eight hours of sleep each night. Without this, they're less able to deal with stressors, such as bullying or social pressures, and run the risk of developing behavioral problems, as well as anxiety and depression.

If sleep drops to less than six hours a night, research shows that teens are twice as likely to engage in risky behaviors such as dangerous driving, marijuana, alcohol or tobacco use, risky sexual behavior, and other aggressive or harmful activities."

Dr Alex Agostini, UniSA Sleep Expert

In Australia, almost one in seven children and adolescents (aged 4-17 years) will experience a mental health disorder. The World Health Organization says that while half of all mental health conditions start by age 14, most cases go undetected and untreated.

Co-researcher, Dr Centofanti says while many factors contribute to later bedtimes for teenagers, technology is one of the greatest offenders.

Teens spend a lot of time on devices, whether it's texting friends, playing games, or watching videos, using technology late into the night is one of the most common disruptors of good sleep. Overuse of technology can also contribute to mental health issues likely to increase anxiety.

Not only can technology use make us feel anxious and awake, but the blue light emitted from technology inhibits the production of the sleep hormone melatonin to delay the natural onset of sleep. This is problematic because teens already have a biological tendency to want to stay up late and sleep in.

To make a real difference to teenage mental health, both parents and medical practitioners must understand how sleep can affect mental health in teenagers."

Dr Centofanti, Co-researcher

Source:
Journal reference:

Agostini, A & Centofanti, S (2020) Normal Sleep in Children and Adolescence. Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Mental Health. doi.org/10.1016/j.chc.2020.08.011.

Comments

The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment
Post

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.

You might also like...
Study: Better sleep health associated with lower levels of loneliness