Lack of Sleep for Teenagers Increases Risk of Developing Mood Deficits

Anahita Kodali, ’23, Medical Sciences, News, Spring 2020

Figure 1: Sleep deprivation has several impacts; some of the most common are shown in this image.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Lack of sleep has been shown to have many negative effects on the body. Not sleeping the recommended eight hours per night can weaken the immune system, increase risk of developing respiratory problems and heart diseases, and affect body weight and hormone production. 1 In addition to impacting the physical state of the body, even low levels of sleep deprivation have significant effects on emotional function and mood. Lack of sleep can cause emotional reactivity to increase, so people not getting adequate sleep are more likely to be emotionally volatile and react negatively to situations where they otherwise would have been calm. Even in general, sleep deprived individuals are more irritable and less empathetic, resulting in lower frequency of positive moods. 2

Now, researchers from Flinders University, located in Australia, have conducted recent studies and have found that sleep deprivation in teens significantly impacts mood and mental health. The team studied over 350,000 teens from across Asia, Europe, North America, and New Zealand. Negative moods are common for teenagers, but lack of sleep was shown to increase the chance of having a mood deficit of some kind by about 55%. Specifically, less sleep was linked to a 41% increased chance of having anxiety, a 62% increased chance of having a depressed mood, and an 83% chance of having an angry mood. Overall, lack of sleep close to doubles the risk of not having a positive mood.

Dr. Michelle Short, one of the sleep researcher at Flinders, commented that while positive mood does not get the same attention as mood disorders, it is important to study. In fact, one of depression’s core symptoms is lack of pleasure (medically termed anhedonia). Thankfully, she says that there are several things that people can do to make sure they are getting enough sleep so as to avoid this condition. Her team suggests parents monitoring their teen’s technology use and social and academic pressures as well as the delay of school start times. 4

Due to the current global pandemic, it is more important than ever to make sure that we have normal sleep habits. Hopefully, with these results and recommendations from Flinders, advocacy for this positive life change.



[1] Sleep deprivation: Causes, symptoms, and treatment. (n.d.). Medical News Today. Retrieved from

[2] Gordon, A. M. (2013, August 15). Up All Night: The Effects of Sleep Loss on Mood. Psychology Today. Retrieved from

[3] Michelle A. Short, Stephen A. Booth, Omar Omar, Linda Ostlundh, Teresa Arora. (2020). The relationship between sleep duration and mood in adolescents: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Sleep Medicine Reviews 52: 101311 DOI: 10.1016/j.smrv.2020.101311

[4] Flinders University. (2020, May 7). ‘Loss of pleasure’ found in teen sleep study: But easy interventions can improve mental health. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 9, 2020 from



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