BATON ROUGE, La (BRPROUD) – New research from the CDC shows that during the pandemic teenagers got less sleep which caused mental health problems.

Dr. Rachael Kermis practices family medicine at Ochsner Medical Center. She said that she has seen this problem with her patients.

“If we are not getting long enough durations of sleep we have limited ability to get into rem sleep and that can definitely lead to worse mental health outcomes with flairs of depression, anxiety, decreased ability to handle different stressors.”

Dr. Kermis, along with the study, attributes the lack of sleep primarily to social media trends that shifted during lockdown.

“With the pandemic people tended to go more towards social media for finding friends and kind of getting that validation from the peer group so with that everyone has immediate access to you and that can happen late at night which again leads to worse sleep outcomes,” Dr. Kermis said.

Nearly 8,000 children ages 13-18 participated in the study. Researchers found students who slept less than 7 hours per school night or experienced poor mental health were more likely to report increased difficulty doing schoolwork. Dr. Jacob Wood also practices family medicine but at Baton Rouge General. He said teens need a lot more sleep.

“Kids in their teenage years should be getting eight to ten hours of sleep,” Dr. Wood said.

Both Dr. Kermis and Dr. Wood said the best way to curb this issue is by following a schedule and putting the electronics away.

“Don’t take your cell phone to bed. And that’s really really really easy to say and it’s really really really hard to do,” said Dr. Wood.

“I strongly recommend against having TVs in the rooms too because that can lead to distraction and poor sleep hygiene,” said Dr. Kermis.