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Study Links Teen Depression to Later Bedtime

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When research echoes common sense: A Columbia University team has a new study out that shows that teens whose parents enforce a 10 p.m. bedtime on weeknights are much less prone to depression and suicidal thoughts than those who stay up until midnight.

Nothing shocking in that, right? But just try it. You got teenagers? I do. Two of 'em. And laughter is the only response I can muster when someone suggests to me that they should be in bed by 10. I know, I know. It would be better for them. But just try making it happen more than a few times a year. And write to me if you manage to do it.

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My children are in their early 30s now, but in "my" day, a 10:00 bedtime was LATE. Of course, according to my kids, I was the ONLY parent that did not allow MTV in the house. Give me a break--who runs this house? You could try modeling it--lights out in the whole house at 10:00. Allow reading in bed? The hardest part is getting started. Try getting them up earlier and maybe they will desire an early bedtime.

After 33 years of teaching high school one thing has not changed. If something is wrong, it is the fault of the kids.

The last fight I failed to win before retirement was to change the schedule so that students could choose to start the day at 9:00 instead of 8:00. Yes, the cheerleaders and football players could still start at 8 if they wished. I also wanted to stop our few remaining 7 AM classes if they did not fill up.

I had read an article about research that concluded that teenagers typically were on a different biological clock than adults. They were ready to start the day around 10 AM and usually did not get sleepy until after midnight.

Of course I lost because the adults make the rules to suit themselves.

In defense of the teenagers, by the time they finish an after-school activity or sport, eat dinner, and do homework, it is nearly impossible to be in bed by 10 PM. It is unrealistic to expect them to do the hours of homework required in this very competitive educational enviroment and be in bed early.

Don't forget that correlation doesn't equal causation.

Maybe inherently docile kids -- the kind who obediently go to bed when Mom says to (those are not my kids) -- are less prone to depression.

It's hard for me to believe that going to bed late predisposes teens to depression. Is it the lack of sleep? I know when I don't get enough rest I can feel a little down. But there might be something a little deeper going on here. Pediatrics magazine reports this month that depressed teens have a very pessimistic view of their own life expectancy. Contrary to the prevailing view that teens think they are invulnerable, they actually recognize that they are not - they just don't expect to be around past the age of 35. For info see: http://www.findingdulcinea.com/news/Americas/2009/July/Pessimism-Drives-Reckless-Behavior-Among-Teens.html

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