Earlier bedtimes may help protect adolescents against depression and suicidal thoughts, says a new study.
Published in the Jan. 1 issue of the journal Sleep, the research found that adolescents with bedtimes that were set earlier by parents were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and to think about committing suicide, suggesting that earlier bedtimes could have a protective effect by lengthening sleep duration and increasing the likelihood of getting enough sleep.
Results show that adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 20 percent more likely to have suicidal ideation than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10 p.m. or earlier. This association was appreciably attenuated by self-reported sleep duration and the perception of getting enough sleep.
Adolescents who reported that they usually sleep for five or fewer hours per night were 71 percent more likely to suffer from depression and 48 percent more likely to think about committing suicide than those who reported getting eight hours of nightly sleep. Participants who reported that they "usually get enough sleep" were significantly less likely to suffer from depression and suicidal ideation.
Lead author James E. Gangwisch, PhD, assistant professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York, N.Y., said that the results strengthen the argument that short sleep duration could play a role in the etiology of depression.
"Our results are consistent with the theory that inadequate sleep is a risk factor for depression, working with other risk and protective factors through multiple possible causal pathways to the development of this mood disorder," said Gangwisch. "Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression."