Early to bed

The Pediatric Insider

© 2010 Roy Benaroch, MD

“Early to bed and early to rise, makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”

Maybe Ben Franklin* was talking about his teenager.

A study published in the January, 2010 issue of Sleep compared teenagers who had early bedtimes (before 10:00 pm) to teens who reported that their parents let them stay awake past midnight.

The authors found that the teens reporting the later bedtime had about a 24% increased incidence of depression, and a 20% increased risk of suicidal thoughts. Further analysis showed that the main way that the earlier bedtimes was protective was that the kids with later bedtimes got less sleep overall.

I speculate that the earlier bedtimes might also be more likely to be a rule in families where parents take a more “active” role in their teenagers’ lives, which probably also protects their teenagers against depression.

I don’t know about making a teen wealthy and wise, but one way to keep them healthy is by sending them to bed at a reasonable time. Teens need 8 or 9 hours of sleep a day– and catching up by sleeping until noon on weekends doesn’t count. If your teen is surly and hard to wake up in the morning, an earlier bedtime might be just the thing to improve everyone’s mood.

*The quote is often attributed to Benjamin Franklin, but apparently there were many earlier versions, like “Who soo woll ryse erly shall be holy helthy and zely.” This predated spell-check.

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