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Sleep-Deprived Teens Risk Mental Health

It turns out the dreaded teenage years – sometimes characterized by moodiness and sullen, one-word answers – could be a lot happier if adolescents got more sleep. 

According to a new study published in the journal Sleep, teens on average get about an hour less than the nine recommended for their age group. And that, the authors say, affects their mental health.

Researchers in the U.S. surveyed more than 15,000 Grade 7 to 12 students and their parents from 1994 to 1996 and found adolescents who said they slept five or fewer hours a night were more likely to suffer from depression and think about committing suicide than those who said they got eight hours of sleep.

The authors say lack of sleep may affect how the brain responds to unpleasant stimuli; cause moodiness that makes the teen less able to cope with stress and hurts relationships with others; and impair judgment, concentration and impulse control.

They also discovered that dealing with the problem could be as easy as parents setting an earlier bedtime, with two-thirds of teens saying they followed the rules.