Sleepless nights blamed for rise in teen depression
Young people who become sleep deprived by using the internet into the small hours are much more likely to become mentally ill in later life, research shows.
Lack of sleep may help explain the puzzling increase in mental illness among young people in recent decades, according to an extensive study.
And regularly staying up late to surf the internet and chat on social networking sites could be one reason young people are sleeping less, according to the research.
Night-owls: Young people who become sleep deprived because of late night internet use are more likely to become mentally ill
The study of about 20,000 young people aged between 17 and 24 found that those who slept fewer than five hours a night were three times more likely than normal sleepers to become psychologically distressed in the next year.
Each hour of sleep lost was linked to a 14 per cent increased risk of distress, according to the results, published in the journal Sleep.
Professor Nicholas Glozier, who led the research, said: 'Sleep disturbance and in particular insomnia is a predictor of later development of depression and possibly anxiety.'
Less sleep was also associated with longer-term mental health problems - which were the focus of the professor's study.
A lot of mental ill-health comes and goes, he said. 'It's the ones who don't get better that we are particularly interested in.'
The professor, who researches psychiatry and sleep medicine at the University of Sydney, believes lack of sleep could contribute to increasing rates of depression.