Friday, January 15, 2010

Friday News Roundup

Sleep: Are We Depriving Our Teenagers of Mental Health?

A study analyzed data taking from 15,569 U.S. students in grades 7 through 12 during a two year time period. The average teenager reported getting seven hours and 53 minutes of sleep a night. As a reference point, the American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests teens get nine or more hours of sleep.

Here is the take home message: adolescents who slept five or fewer hours a night were 1.71 times more likely to suffer from depression and 1.48 times more likely to to think about committing suicide than those who got eight hours of sleep a night.

Of course, one symptom of depression can be difficulty sleeping. The survey data might simply be recording that depressed teens sleep less than non-depressed teens (which would be obvious). Without closer research it would be hard to draw the conclusion that lack of sleep can cause depression.

Regardless, it's a good idea to encourage our teens (and ourselves) to get a good night sleep. It helps reduce emotional vulnerability and just might even help insulate someone from depression.  Want to know more about what is considered a health night sleep? Check out this link that discusses sleep hygiene.

Exercise Preserves Memory 

This is less news (at least to me) and more of a reminder.  According to two reports that appeared in the January issue of Archives of Neurology, moderate levels of physical activity during middle age or later appears to have a protective effect: it can reduce the risk of mild cognitive impairment which is a common condition preceding dementia. Further, six months of high-intensity aerobic exercise can improve cognitive function in individuals who already have the condition.

This makes me glad I went running this morning!

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