Study Objectives: To examine the relationships between parental set bedtimes, sleep duration, and depression as a quasi-experiment to explore the potentially bidirectional relationship between short sleep duration and depression. Short sleep duration has been shown to precede depression, but this could be explained as a prodromal symptom of depression. Depression in an adolescent can affect his/her chosen bedtime, but it is less likely to affect a parent’s chosen set bedtime which can establish a relatively stable upper limit that can directly affect sleep duration.
Design: Multivariate cross-sectional analyses of the ADD Health using logistic regression.
Setting: United States nationally representative, school-based, probability-based sample in 1994-96.
Participants: Adolescents (n = 15,659) in grades 7 to 12.
Measurements and Results: Adolescents with parental set bedtimes of midnight or later were 24% more likely to suffer from depression (OR = 1.24, 95% CI 1.04-1.49) and 20% more likely to have suicidal ideation (1.20, 1.01-1.41) than adolescents with parental set bedtimes of 10:00 PM or earlier, after controlling for covariates. Consistent with sleep duration and perception of getting enough sleep acting as mediators, the inclusion of these variables in the multivariate models appreciably attenuated the associations for depression (1.07, 0.88-1.30) and suicidal ideation (1.09, 0.92-1.29).
Conclusions: The results from this study provide new evidence to strengthen the argument that short sleep duration could play a role in the etiology of depression. Earlier parental set bedtimes could therefore be protective against adolescent depression and suicidal ideation by lengthening sleep duration.
Keywords: Partial sleep deprivation, depression, suicidal ideation, adolescents, epidemiology