Chronic Sleep Deprivation Leads to Mental Illnesses in Young Women

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A new study has shown a possible link between depression and chronic sleep deprivation in young women.

Researchers at the University of Michigan Medical School in Ann Arbor studied 171 female college students over the course of two weeks to complete the study. They started by filling out a questionnaire assessment determining their anxiety and depression levels, and the researchers asked them to write down their mood, anxiety levels, total sleep time, and ratings of sleep quality for each night.

On average, the women reported sleeping for seven hours and 22 minutes each night with an overall sleep quality rating of "fairly good."

At the start of the study, one-third of the women were "at risk" for depression while 17% suffered from clinical anxiety.

During the study, women who reported less sleep per night reported greater depressive symptoms, and the inability to enjoy normally pleasurable activities. To live a healthy lifestyle, the National Sleep Foundation recommends that most adults need between seven to nine hours of sleep per night on average.

Lead author of the study David A. Kalmbach points out that these symptoms were prevalent in healthy young women, not solely those who are clinically depressed. He says that while one night of sleeping well can make a person feel good, the affects are not long lasing.

Kalmback tells FOX News, "Therapeutic effects of a night of sleep deprivation are typically short-lasting, and because chronic sleep deprivation increases depression-risk, the therapeutic benefit of sleep deprivation on depression is modest at best."

One school in the area is looking to counteract the negative effects that come with sleep deprivation.

Aiming to get kids with negative home lives, chronic sleep deprivation, and mental illnesses interested in academics, the principal at Allegan Alternative High School hopes to foster a sense of welcoming to her students. She enacted a "Mind, Body, and Spirit" initiative that involves increased extracurricular activities, guest artists, guest speakers and counseling services available to all students.

And it has been successful. Within the past few years, the total lost of school hours went down from 247 to 30, and 75% of children have been successfully admitted in counseling, something that may not have been available to them previously.

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