Monthly Archives: February 2011

Sleeping in a ‘Cave’

Think about what a cave is like . . . dark, cool, quiet, and did I say dark? For the best sleep, a cave-like bedroom is ideal.

People sleep best in a cool room, no warmer than 65 degrees. Keep bedcovers in light layers that can easily be adjusted so you avoid getting too hot.

Keep the room quiet. If there are intermittent sounds you just can’t avoid, then use a soft sound machine through the night.

Dark makes all the difference in sleep. Melatonin which is so important for falling asleep is suppressed by light. Unfortunately in most urban settings there is so much light polution that it’s difficult to make the bedroom dark. Use black out shades to block outside light, then turn off all nightlights and electronic LEDs in the bedroom.

Making these simple changes to the bedroom can make a real improvement in your sleep.

Teens Bedtimes Influence Depression

So, we’ve known for a long time that there’s a connection between sleep disturbance and mental health, particularly depression.

There’s been some research published this year looking at the connection between teens’ bedtime and mental health. Because depression may affect a student’s chosen bedtime, this study looked at parentally set bedtimes. Students’ were divided into two groups – bedtime 10pm or before, and bedtime midnight or later.

The teens with the later set bedtime of midnight or after were 24% more likely to be depressed and 20% more likely to have suicidal thoughts. The students with depression and suicidal thoughts had a sleep duration of 7 hr 23 mins compared to the other adolescents with an average of 7 hr 55 mins sleep nightly. Note for all groups this is at least an hour less than the recommended sleep for teens – 9 hours of more.

The authors conclude that an earlier parentally set bedtime may be protective against depression and suicidal thoughts in teens since it provides a longer sleep duration. Something to think about for all parents and people working with kids.