The Need For Sleep: Do Poorly Rested Kids Become Unhappy Adults?

Teens and young adults face a variety of mental health concerns, and research indicates that getting more sleep (and better sleep) earlier on may buffer against a number of these problems. As reported online by the Wall Street Journal, kids who sleep poorly during their childhood and early adolescence are more likely to struggle with the following laundry list in their teens and twenties: depression, anxiety, drug abuse, alcohol abuse, learning problems, memory problems, obesity, and aggressive behavior. This insight comes from varying studies, some larger and more thorough than others, but the general connection between sleep problems and mental health problems is clear.

So if not getting enough sleep is psychologically unhealthy, what does good sleep do? Therapists and psychologists believe that it’s not that staying up too late harms you; it’s that resting your mind comes with protective benefits. Just as your body heals, repairs and grows when you sleep, your mind does the same. This can provide a protective buffer against depression and the many other struggles named above. Sleep doesn’t mean immunity to mental health concerns; after all, life is never perfect and we all experience ups and downs. Plenty of people who slept well during childhood still benefit from counseling and therapy as adults. But taking care of our kids by encouraging adequate rest may soften the blow and help them fare a little bit better as young adults.

This sleep study is a good opportunity to discuss the importance of self-care. It’s true that psychotherapists specialize in the psychological, mental and emotional elements of a person’s life. But these elements are intrinsically linked to physical and social factors. It’s common knowledge that therapists talk with clients about the latter: relationships with friends, family, coworkers, and romantic partners. But the physical factors also play a role in mental health. Adequate and consistent sleep, exercise, and healthy food go a long way to achieve balance, resilience and strength for weathering what life throws your way.

© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • Samantha


    January 23rd, 2011 at 9:18 AM

    I have been reading lately about the many positive effects that sleep can have on the mind and the body, and now this. We are as a whole such a sleep deprived nation, but if anything is going to turn that around, maybe th messgae about how important sleep can be for all pf us will do that. Good sleep habits are tough to form as adults though. This is something that we need to instill in our children from a very ealy age. They get into these bad habits as children and then they are tough to overcome as adults. But if we esatblish these things for them as children then hopefully the problems that many of us now face as adults can be avoided. Overall they could become a happier and healthier generation.

  • MdA


    January 23rd, 2011 at 10:59 PM

    Its a little different with me…I have forever been a sleep-lover and would constantly have too much sleep when I was little…The sleep habits are improving now that I am 17 but I feel tired very quickly and easily…Is there any problem with me…?Any possible solution to this early onset of fatigue in me…?

  • ronnie v

    ronnie v

    January 24th, 2011 at 5:28 AM

    Poorly rested people are unhappy people period! I know that when I do not get enough rest there is no “catching up”, it is like I am always running on a deficit. If it does this to me and I am a fully grown adult, then why would we veen begin to think that it would not have a similar if not more troublesome effect on young kids?

  • barney


    January 24th, 2011 at 12:56 PM

    the night is to rest,to relax and recharge ourselves for the next…that’s how we humans are designed…we have been doing it for tens of thousands of years and that’s how it is…now the demands and attractions of modern life are changing the rules and it is only imperative that it affects us…and for kids this effect seems to cling on even later in life…

  • Christopher


    January 24th, 2011 at 5:04 PM

    Scientists have linked obesity to everything except Watergate. Saying that something as simple as a lack of sleep causes it throws a large amount of merit in this article straight out the window as far as I’m concerned.

  • Rochelle


    January 24th, 2011 at 6:12 PM

    The only statement on that laundry list of possibly sleep deprivation related ills that has a strong truth is the aggressive behavior. It’s common sense that a lack of sleep gets people in a bad mood very quickly. We all get cranky when we’ve not had enough, young or old. The rest, sorry but I’m not convinced.

  • SS


    January 25th, 2011 at 3:52 AM

    Our body has a lot of needs and even if one is not provided for,there will be effects and there will be depreciation in the health levels of the body.

    Also,sleep is one of the most important things for our body and mind and a lack of it is bound to affect us.

  • Norma


    January 25th, 2011 at 5:39 AM

    There are some people who are so opposed to going to bed at a decent hour and this rubs off on their kids. What in the world could possibly feel wrong about getting a good night’s rest? My husband is one of those people who thinks that 3am is a perfectly normal bedtime even though he is usually snoring on the couch by 8pm. hmmmm wonder why. . .

  • Leslie


    January 26th, 2011 at 5:42 AM

    I function just fine with five hours of sleep a night, any more and I feel groggy for the rest of the day. So maybe this is not a one size fits all?

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Title   Content   Author is not intended to be a substitute for professional advice, diagnosis, medical treatment, or therapy. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding any mental health symptom or medical condition. Never disregard professional psychological or medical advice nor delay in seeking professional advice or treatment because of something you have read on