I'm on the duh-study trail again. My latest find is "Adolescent sleep duration is associated with daytime mood." Well then. What a shocking finding from a National Institutes of Health supported study.
According to the news release (I don't have a copy of the study findings), the researchers studied 97 healthy teens from 14 to 17 years old to follow their sleeping habits. The teens were allowed only 6.5 hours in bed per night for five nights in a row (sleep restriction), then a two-night break (a "washout period") and this was followed by five nights straight of 10 hours in bed per night. The researchers looked at the teens' daily self reports on nervousness, sadness, anger, energy, fatigue, ability to concentrate, and sleepiness.
According to the news release:
Results show that adolescents showed increased variability in sadness, anger, and sleepiness when sleep was restricted compared to when sleep was extended. This effect was not moderated by age, sex, race, or the order in which participants underwent the sleep conditions.
The study also showed that nightly fluctuations in sleep in healthy adolescents predict worse mood the next day, and worse mood any given day largely predicts unusually bad sleep the next night.
So here we have it - less sleep equals less happy teens. Any parent could have told us that.
In all seriousness, the authors do say that the research is necessary because they are concerned about the mental health of teens - an important issue to be sure. But their conclusion, that these findings indicate that by promoting healthy sleep habits, we may be able to reduce the risk of mental health problems among some teens, is too simplistic. We know that lack of sleep causes problems, particularly if it's chronic. We also know that teens need a lot of sleep, as they did when they were infants - a teen's body is growing and changing at incredible rates.
My issue with these Duh Studies is that they're sent out into the media world without any real meaning. Yes, teens need sleep. Yes, they're crabby and don't function well without sleep. Now what?