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Lack of sleep linked to mental illness

health-and-fitness Updated: Sep 01, 2010 15:39 IST

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An Australian research has suggested that youngsters who get very little sleep are more prone to mental illness.

Nicholas Glozier of the University of Sydney said that lack of sleep might help explain the puzzling increase in mental illness among young people over the past decades. He also said that using Internet late night could be a reason young people were sleeping less.

The study of about 20,000 people aged between 17 and 24 found those who slept less than five hours a night were three times more likely than normal sleepers to become psychologically distressed in the next year. Each hour of sleep lost was linked to a 14 per cent increased risk of distress.


"Sleep disturbance and in particular insomnia is a predictor of later development of depression and possibly anxiety," the

Sydney Morning Herald

quoted Glozier as saying.

Less sleep has also been associated with longer-term mental health problems. "Older people and people in middle age have been sleeping longer but young people have not," he said.

"Large numbers of my patients are on Facebook or the internet or massive multiplayer games until one or two in the morning but are having to get up at 7am."

Sleep problems and mental illness could exacerbate each other.

"Many of these kids could have sleep problems as a result of previous disturbances," he said. "But what we are seeing (are) young adults who tend to start off with anxiety and body clock problems (and) move on to problems like bipolar or major depression."

The findings were published in the journal Sleep.