An American study has linked insufficient sleep to depression in adolescents. The study of over 15,000 adolescents in years 7-12 looked at the relationship between set bedtimes and sleep duration and depression.

The study found that teens who went to bed after midnight were 24% more likely to suffer from depression and 20% more likely to have suicidal ideation then teens who had bedtimes of 10pm or earlier. The study additionally found that teens who sleep for less then 5 hours a night are 71% more likely to suffer from depression then those who sleep for at least 8 hours a night.

Dr James Gangwisch, leader author of the study, noted that the link between depression and bedtimes suggested that it is not simply the case of depressed adolescents having trouble sleeping, describing instead that it appears that sleep is essential for adolescents to remain mentally healthy.

Dr Gangwisch went on to describe the factors which teens need to stay healthy. “Enough sleep, good food and regular exercise are all essential to stay emotionally healthy,” he said. “Nearly 80,000 children and young people suffer with depression, yet we are still failing to provide our young people with the help and support to cope with it and prevent it.”

“Adequate quality sleep could therefore be a preventative measure against depression and a treatment for depression.”

The article can be found in the journal Sleep.

Writer Tristan Boyd, editor Dr Ramesh Manocha.