A tired, sleepy child
Posed by model (Photo: Shutterstock)

A new study has discovered that LGBTQ+ youth are facing a greater deal of insomnia than their straight counterparts.

The study, published in LGBT Health, looked at 8,500 kids. Among those aged 10-14, 35% of the gay, lesbian, bisexual, and “questioning” kids said they had trouble falling or staying asleep in the preceding two weeks. This compares to just 13% of youngsters who identified as straight.

Several previous studies have found that LGBTQ+ youth are more likely to experience discrimination and depression. The results are therefore perhaps not all that surprising. That said, this is believed to be the first such study looking specifically at insomnia in US queer youth.

Kids and teens need more sleep than adults (ideally 8-10 hours compared to 7-8 hours when older).

“Sleep is incredibly important for a teenager’s health,” lead author Jason M. Nagata, a professor of pediatrics at the University of California, San Francisco, told NBC. “There’s growth spurts and hormonal changes that help you develop normally.”

“This is such a volatile period, both physically and mentally,” Nagata continued. “Teens are particularly vulnerable to the opinions of their peers, so it’s a high-risk group for mental health problems and suicide.”

The study concludes that “sexual minority status may be linked to sleep disturbance in early adolescence. Depressive problems, stress, family conflict, and less parental monitoring partially mediate disparities in sleep health for sexual minority youth.”

The authors believe further research could look at whether results differ depending on home life. For example, do queer kids who live with supportive parents sleep better than queer kids with homophobic parents?

We’d hazard a guess they probably do.

Screen time

The study looked at data collected between 2018-2020 by the Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development Study. It’s the largest long-term study of brain development and child health in the United States.

Just over 4% identified as not straight, although that figure is likely to rise further as kids progress through adolescence.

Researchers are using the data collected to find out other information about queer youth. In a separate study, published a couple of weeks ago in the Annals of Epidemiology, Nagata said that LGBTQ+ youth are spending more of their day staring at electronic screens than straight kids.

That study said queer youth recorded an average of 10.4 hours of screen time, approximately four hours more than straight kids. YouTube, social media and video games made up much of that use.

Don't forget to share:

Help make sure LGBTQ+ stories are being told...

We can't rely on mainstream media to tell our stories. That's why we don't lock Queerty articles behind a paywall. Will you support our mission with a contribution today?

Cancel anytime · Proudly LGBTQ+ owned and operated