Sleep-deprived high school students who doze off in class aren't just risking the wrath of their teachers. They're also three times more likely to be depressed than their alert classmates who get enough sleep, a new study has found.
"Sleep deprivation and depression go hand in hand among teenagers," says the study's lead author, Mahmood Siddique, DO, a sleep medicine specialist at the Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, in New Brunswick, N.J. "Instead of giving them medications, I'd rather give them a chance to sleep better, and more."
Daytime sleepiness appears to be the new normal for adolescents. More than half of the 262 high school seniors who participated in the study were "excessively sleepy," according to a commonly used scale that gauges how likely a person is to doze off during everyday activities such as reading, watching TV, or sitting in a traffic jam.
The students reported sleeping an average of about six hours on school nights and eight hours on the weekend, far less than the nine hours a night—at least—that the American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends for high school students.