sleepyYoung people increase their risk of insomnia and poor mental health once they start delaying their bed times, according to an Australian study.

Researchers at the University of Adelaide analysed the sleep patterns of more than 300 12-18 year-olds and found a clear link between sleep, study and social pressures resulting in an increase in mental health issues as they grow up.

Teens who were more active in the evenings were more likely to have depression or insomnia, or both. This group was also more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, and social phobia.

The study suggests that the approach for treating teenagers for mental health disorders should take sleep into account.

Further reading: Sleep and mental health

Study lead Pasquale Alvaro said: "In adolescence, the older the child becomes the more likely they are to show a preference for being awake in the evening. This is due to biological factors, but also social factors like academic stresses or use of technology like phones and tablets.

"Then they have to turn around and get up early for school the next day, and this can start a pattern of sleep deprivation. We need to communicate to teachers and parents that some behavioural issues may feature sleep deprivation as a contributing factor. In my opinion measuring sleep should be part of any mental health assessments performed in teenagers."

To read the study in full visit