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Too Little Sleep Can Lower Kids' Self-Esteem

Lack of slumber can also increase feelings of depression among middle schoolers

MONDAY, Feb. 9, 2004 (HealthDayNews) -- A lack of sleep can cause feelings of depression and low self-esteem among middle school students, says a study in the January-February issue of Child Development.

The study included 2,259 Illinois students. They were asked about their grades and the number of hours they slept each night. The students also completed questionnaires designed to measure depressive symptoms and assess self-worth.

Grade 6 students who slept fewer hours had lower self-esteem, higher levels of depressive symptoms and worse grades than students who got more sleep. The study also found a steady decline in average hours of sleep among students during the three years of middle school. This decrease in sleep resulted in an increase of depressive symptoms, lower self-esteem and falling grades.

Sleep levels dropped over the three years for both girls and boys, but the decline was steeper for girls. On average, girls and boys went to bed at the same time, but girls woke up earlier. The researchers attribute this to longer morning grooming times for girls or a greater burden of household chores.

"Elevated levels of depression and drops in self-esteem are seen as inevitable hallmarks of adolescence," Jean Rhodes, a psychologist at the University of Massachusetts, Boston, says in a prepared statement.

"Yet these results suggest that such changes are partially linked to a variable -- sleep -- that is largely under individual, parental and even school control," Rhodes says.

She says attempts to improve the health, quality of life and academic success of adolescents should take into consideration the importance of a good night's sleep.

More information

Here's where you can learn more about teens and sleep.

SOURCE: Child Development, news release, Feb. 7, 2004
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