New research suggests young people getting less than five hours sleep per night are tripling their chances of developing a mental illness. The George Institute for Global Health surveyed almost 20,000 Australians aged between 17 and 24 for the research.
Researchers found those sleeping fewer than five hours a night are three times more likely to become mentally ill than those sleeping for eight or nine hours. The results also linked sleep deprivation with cardiovascular disease and weight gain.
The study’s lead author, Professor Nick Glozier, says the average amount of sleep for a young adult is eight to nine hours a night. But he says that is decreasing, especially over the past decade.
“There’s a whole bunch of gadgets that kids and young adults now have in their bedrooms that they never used to have. ” he said.
“Yet of course they’ve got to get up and go to school or go to college or go to uni at exactly the same time. So there’s a group of them who are becoming more and more sleep-deprived.”
Professor Glozier says it is important to prevent mental health problems where possible.
“It’s those chronic mental health problems when you’re an adolescent or you’re a young adult, that lead on to the more important adult forms of the disorders, like major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, ” he said.
“So if we can do something around that group of people when they’re beginning to become chronic, or preventing those chronic, persistent problems then we may have a really good target for an early intervention. “