PhotoParents with teenagers know very well that they can be moody at times, but is that grumpy attitude being caused by lack of sleep? Researchers from the American Academy of Sleep think this might be the case.

In a new study, the researchers found that adolescents who don’t get enough sleep are more susceptible to sudden changes in mood and energy. Specifically, they say that feelings of sadness and anger, along with low energy and sleepiness, are increased when sleep is restricted.

Emotional and mental fatigue

The researchers examined 97 health adolescents between the ages of 14 and 17 for the study. Participants were put on two different sleep cycles in a randomized, counterbalanced order. Five nights of this schedule included restricted sleep of 6.5 hours in bed, while the other five nights included extended sleep, or 10 hours in bed. A two-night “wash-out” period was placed in between each sleeping condition.

Each participant was asked to report on their feelings throughout the study to see what impact sleep had on their mental and emotional state. Specifically, they asked about factors like sadness, anger, nervousness, energy, fatigue, ability to concentrate, and sleepiness each day.

Of these factors, the researchers found that restricted sleep led to more variability in sadness, anger, and sleepiness compared to periods of extended sleep. They also found that a worsened mood due to restricted sleep had a negative impact on the following night’s sleep.

Promoting healthy sleep habits

The researchers believe that these results might explain some of the real problems that adolescents face on a day-to-day basis.

“These results are important because variability in mood and emotional dysregulation can interfere with social, school, and behavioral functioning, and may contribute to the development of more severe psychopathology,” said Dr. Dean Beebe, senior author of the study.

“The promising aspect of this finding is that sleep can be modified and by promoting healthy sleep we could potentially prevent the development and/or maintenance of more serious mental health problems for some teens.”

The study’s abstract has been published in the journal Sleep, but the researchers will be presenting the full study at SLEEP 2016, an annual meeting of the Associated Professional Sleep Societies LLC (APSS).

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