Teen suicidal thoughts linked to sleep


 

Firstly, I was struck by this article about the correlation between teens not getting enough sleep and having suicidal impulses.  Let me see if I can find it for you… ah, here it is.

An extract:

As well as the higher risk of depression, those who were set a bedtime by their parents of after midnight were 20% more likely to think about suicide than those whose bedtime was 2200 or earlier.

Those who had less than five hours sleep a night were thought to have a 48% higher risk of suicidal thoughts compared with those who had eight hours of sleep.

Now, this being a bbc article and all, I’m not saying I expect in-depth analysis, but such surface-brushing of a potential issue seems lazy to say the least.  I mean, how on earth can you take those two sets of statistics 1)adolescents who go to bed later than 10pm and 2) adolescents who go to bed before 10pm, and draw from that, unfounded conclusions?

The article seems to me to reveal nothing whatsoever about the correlation between young adult bedtime and suicidal thoughts.  It’s glaringly obvious that the depression itself may be keeping those stayer-uppers up, as sleep disturbance is a basic symptom of depression, which, in turn is a major trigger of suicidal thoughts.

I just hold my head in my hands sometimes with these types of reports.   Either the reporter is being lazy in their analysis of the findings or the study is completely unequipped to deal with the variables and intricacy of the relationship between depression, age and suicidal leanings.

6 thoughts on “Teen suicidal thoughts linked to sleep

  1. Er, what’s my excuse?! I was still like that when I went to bed at 10!

    I do think there’s some justice in you saying that late to sleepers may be preoccupied by depressive thoughts already, although it seems to be talking about the bedtimes set by parents, which wouldn’t be linked to the child’s feelings…

    • yes I didn’t make that clear in the ‘rant’. As you say, it seems to be bedtimes set by parents that they are taking the data from.
      Still, I find it a ridiculous bit of journalism. Important questions aren’t answered. I quote:

      “Study leader Dr James Gangwisch said although it it was possible that youngsters with depression struggle to sleep, the fact that parental set bedtimes were linked with depression suggests that a lack of sleep is somehow underpinning the development of the condition”

      Okay, so we’re assuming here that parentally set bedtimes = kid will actually sleep at that time?? Hello? I don’t know about anyone else but as an adolescent I couldn’t just drop off to sleep just because someone forced me up the apple and pears.

      I’ve got another post in the drafts that goes a bit further into the body clock and how different people are wired to sleep early or late, but that aside…

      Why are they assuming that an
      early parentally set bedtime = more sleep = less depressed adolescent?

      They fail to even touch on the other possibility of

      early parentally set bedtime = parental involvement in child’s life/feeling of being cared for = less depressed adolescent?

      Now, it’s entirely possible that this is a really well done study and the BBC writer has done a slap dash job of writing it up (like I did in this post – but then I’m not being paid for it ;))

  2. I just hold my head in my hands sometimes with these types of reports.” Me too. The researcher, James Gangwisch, has previously tried to link lack of sleep with obesity, with diabetes and with high blood pressure, so his latest press release is just another in a long line of them. Every time this kind of press release goes out, there are journalists who fall for it…but that’s showbiz for ya!

    • Didn’t know he’d linked it with all those other things. The thing is you can link anything with anything, but it’s so boring to read this stuff churned out without (seemingly) a solid base of cause-effect testing. Perhaps I’m expecting too much lol

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