Bedtime for Teens and Adolescents Is Very Important

There was a time when the late night TV news began with the statement/question: “It’s 11:00 p.m. Do you know where your kids are?”

            Parents concerned about adolescent mental health and reducing the risk of depression and suicide ought to be able to answer “At home and in bed,” according to a newly released report from the National Institutes of Health.

            Teens whose parents allow them to stay up after midnight on weeknights have a much higher chance of being depressed or suicidal than teens whose parents enforce an earlier bedtime, NIH scientists reported at Sleep 2009, the annual meeting of the Associated professional Sleep Societies convened in early June 2009 in Seattle.

            The research team led by Columbia University Medical Center’s James Gangswisch examined surveys of 15,659 teens and their parents who took part in an NIH study of adolescent health. The findings are the first to examine bedtimes’ effects on the mental health of children and adolescents. The results indicated that middle- and high-schoolers who  are not required to be in bed before midnight school nights are 42 percent more likely to be depressed than teens whose parents require 10:00 p.m. or earlier bedtimes. Teens allowed to stay up later are 30% more likely to have suicidal thoughts in the past year.

            The reality, researchers found, is that middle and high school students need about nine hours of sleep a night. The NIH survey found that kids whose parents called for a 9-10 p.m. bedtime said they were in bed, on average, by 10:04 p.m. and slept for 8 hours and 10 minutes, compared to 7.5 hours for kids allowed to stay up past midnight. Significantly, the new data come from NIH surveys before 1994 to 1996 and Gangswisch believes the disparities between teens with and without prescribed bedtimes are even greater today – in the era of the Internet, Twitter and Facebook.

            For more information please see:

 Francis J. (Skip) Flynn, Psy. D.
7740 Southwest 52 Avenue
Miami, Florida 33143
(305) 271-0973

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