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Sleep Loss and Mood in Adolescent males

During adolescence, there is also a high incidence of poor sleep, including reduced sleep quality and quantity, and high levels of daytime sleepiness. Although there is evidence that poor sleep and mental health problems are significantly related in adolescence, we don't know if this gets worse over the course of a whole school term.

This is an important omission, given that we think that sleep loss builds up in a cumulative manner, and it is likely that adolescents become increasingly sleepy across a school term. Because we know that sleep loss is related to emotional disturbance, such as depression, anxiety and stress we think that as sleep loss increases over the school term, emotional problems will too.
Our study will be the first to examine the effects of longer-term sleep loss (in both quality and quantity) on adolescent males' mental health across the course of a school term. Our main aim is to see determine the impact of changes in sleep quantity and quality on adolescent mental health and well-being over the course of a school term.

If sleep deficits across the school term are found to be a predictor of mental health status in adolescents, and further, if cumulative sleep deficits are found to be related to increases in mental health problems, then we will be better informed about how to potentially improve mental health by improving sleep. Targeted sleep intervention programs, which are currently underway with members of this research team, may be able to reduce sleep disturbance and improve mental health.

Sleep is a modifiable behaviour and so has the potential to be a major component of improving adolescent mental health within intervention programs.

What will happen?

Sleep and mental health will be measured over the period of a school term in adolescent males.

A group of adolescent males will be monitored for 12 weeks during a school term and the following holiday period.  They will complete mental health questionnaires, sleepiness scales and record their sleep on a sleep diary and with actiwatches, every day for 14 weeks!

We plan to study 100 males aged 14-17 years (in grades 9-11) over the next two years. Participants will be compensated for their time and effort.

If you are interested in participating in the study, please email the chief investigator Dr Sarah Blunden on or the project officer Larrisa Clarkson on