This Depression is Exhausting
Getting Less Sleep Increases Chances of Serious Mental Distress
In 2007, almost 18 percent of young adults between 18 and 25 years old had experienced serious psychological distress within the past year, according to the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. And young adults not getting enough sleep could be to blame for such statistics.
Young adults getting fewer than eight hours of sleep per night are at greater risk of experiencing high levels of anxious and depressive symptoms, according to a study of almost 21,000 Australians between 17 and 24 years old. If people whose biggest concerns include surfing and Kylie Minogue are suffering from any form of anxiety, then we really need to take a look at how our sleep patterns might be affecting us. We kid, we kid...
The study, appearing in the September issue of the journal SLEEP, (how they manage to put out a new issue each month we're not sure...) says there's a linear relationship between getting fewer than eight hours of nightly sleep and experiencing psychological distress. To get specific, for each hour of average nightly sleep loss, the risk of psychological distress increased by 14 percent.
For young adults already experiencing distress, the less sleep they got, the greater the chance of psychological distress one year later. For those not already experiencing distress, getting five hours of nightly sleep or less made them three times more likely to be distressed one year later. And, sleeping less than five hours a night is fifty times more likely to make you look like hammered shit (our statistic); and, that's depressing on its own.
In the study, participants completed a confidential survey and the average nightly sleep for each respondent was determined (accounting for both weekday and weekend nights). Psychological distress was evaluated using the Kessler Psychological Distress Scale, a widely-used screening tool that asks about feeling tired, nervous, hopeless, restless, depressed, sad and worthless. About 32.5 percent of participants had high levels of psychological distress at the beginning of the study.
The study's authors concede that losing sleep could also result from being distressed to begin with. And while they don't explain why getting less sleep could increase distress, they do believe that recent increases in young adults' distress levels could be the result of lifestyle changes that lead to not enough sleep. We think this is a nice way of saying that young people party too much and it's hard to hit the REM cycle when you're passed out with half a hamburger in your hand and a guy who doesn't speak English in the bed next to you...again, hypothetically.
American Academy of Sleep Medicine (2010, September 1). Study links shorter sleep durations with greater risks of mental distress in young adults. EurekAlert! Retrieved from http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2010-09/aaos-sls083010.php