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Poor sleeping habits can affect teens' ability to feel pleasure

Experts are concerned about how this can affect young people’s mental health

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While struggles with sleep are nothing new for teens, it can be difficult for parents to ensure that their children are getting enough rest each night. 

Now, researchers from Flinders University have found that poor sleeping habits can affect teens' mental health in countless ways, including their ability to feel pleasure during waking hours. 

“Fortunately, there are many interventions individuals, family, the community, and even public policy can encourage to maintain regular sleep in this at-risk population to reduce the likelihood of these problems spilling over into mental health issues needing clinical treatment,” said researcher Dr. Michelle Short. 

Prioritizing better sleep routines

To understand the link between teens’ sleep and mental health, the researchers analyzed over 70 previous studies that included data on over 360,000 teens. The studies looked at how teens’ sleeping patterns affected their overall mood and mental health. 

The researchers learned that a lack of sleep for this population greatly affected their mood. While negative moods increased, the study also revealed that positive emotions were harder to come by for sleep deprived teens. 

Dr. Short and her team found that not getting enough quality sleep can decrease the likelihood that teens experience pleasure or joy from things that typically boost their moods. 

Negative emotions were also found to be on the rise, as 55 percent of the teens involved in these studies reported being in a poorer mood following lack of sleep -- with anxiety, anger, and depression all on the rise. Over 80 percent of the teens experienced spikes in anger due to lack of sleep. 

The researchers recommend that parents get more involved in setting their children’s bedtimes and encourage more positive habits as it gets later in the evening. The time before falling asleep should be as relaxing as possible, and taking the time to prioritize those parts of the nighttime routine can help teens get more restful sleep. 

“It is imperative that greater focus is given to sleep as for prevention and early intervention for mood deficits,” said Dr. Short. 

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