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National Sleep Foundation finds lack of sleep leads to teen depression

Sleep researchers warn long-term poor sleep may be linked to more severe depression symptoms.
National Sleep Foundation finds lack of sleep leads to teen depression
Posted at 9:01 PM, Mar 08, 2024

Four out of five teens say they don't get enough sleep, according to new data from the National Sleep Foundation, which recommends 8 to 10 hours nightly. 

A new poll of more than 1,000 teens found that just two days a week of trouble falling or staying asleep led to higher levels of depressive symptoms.

"Nearly 75% of teens reported directly that their emotional well-being was negatively impacted when they slept less than usual," said Joseph Dzierzewski, research and scientific affairs VP of the National Sleep Foundation.

This data comes amid the growing mental health crisis, which saw 16% of 12- to 17-year-olds having at least one major depressive episode in 2023, according to Mental Health America.

"Poor sleep can feed into the depressive symptoms, and the depressive symptoms can then feed back into the poor sleep. And you have a vicious cycle that can be extremely tough to break," said Dzierzewski.

The researchers found that about 1 in 5 teens reported taking a sleep medication at least once a week, while only 1 in 10 spoke to a doctor about sleep troubles. 

This coming week advocates will hold a congressional briefing, in part to ask for a public health priority on getting good sleep.

Expert sleep tips include: no heavy meals, alcohol or smoking close to bedtime; no phones, no TV; and use light to your brain and body's advantage, getting bright light early in the day and dimming the lights as the sun goes down. 

SEE MORE: What is the 'sleepy girl mocktail' and can it actually help you sleep?

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