BY ELENA VALDEZ
High school students live extremely busy lives, starting their days before the sun rises and ending them well into the night. With more than a million things to balance, from school work and extracurricular activities to social lives and self-care, teenagers are left with little time to themselves— meaning even less time to sleep. Students’ bodies tend to run on empty, having their energy completely drained with no time to ever fully recharge.
Sleep deprivation is extremely common and extremely serious, as it can affect both emotional and physical well-being. The National Sleep Foundation reports that teenagers experiencing a lack of sleep find it increasingly difficult to concentrate on material and retain it. Mood swings and increased irritability are also common, as well as a weakened immune system and daytime fatigue.
According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lack of sleep will leave the brain exhausted and unable to perform tasks to its full capacity, which is precisely what so many students face.
Feeling weary throughout the day causes many students to quickly become reliant on caffeine in order to accomplish and focus on the tasks and material presented to them.
Dr. Mary Carskadon of the Brown University School of Medicine conducted a study regarding student sleep schedules and discovered that waking up as early as 6:30 a.m. has led students to compromise their health for academic success. Aside from genetic predispositions or diseases that may affect sleeping schedules, seemingly healthy students are struggling to remain awake. Honors and AP classes provide strenuous homework that can take upwards of two hours, often times leaving students stressed and with little free-time.
Sleep is an important part of staying healthy. Not only does it allow for the body to restore its chemical balance and heal itself, but it also aids in memory retention and the formation of new connections. According to The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), a lack of sleep will leave the brain exhausted and unable to perform tasks to its full capacity, which is precisely what so many students face.
The CDC concluded that only 27.3 percent of students aged 13 to 18 reported getting between eight to 10 hours of sleep in 2015; this number has stayed relatively consistent in the following years.
Students forfeit their basics needs, such as sleep, to accomplish their goals and maintain a healthy social life. Spending time with family and friends keep a person present. But if one is experiencing a lack of sleep, these things can quickly become foreign to them. Staying in bed on the weekends to catch up on sleep missed during the weekdays takes away from connecting with others and simply living life. In turn, this lack of a social or personal life can lead to a decrease in mental health, as stated by a 2011 MyNorthwest news report. Living day to day, completely drained, leaves teenagers hopeless.
Medical professionals suggest that adolescents aged 13 to 18 should get at least eight hours of sleep per every 24 hours. However, this is seldom the case. Teenagers are expected to function as adults with fast-paced lives and little sleep time. Teenagers are still growing and in order to grow properly, a good night’s sleep is vital. The CDC concluded that only 27.3 percent of students aged 13 to 18 reported getting between eight to 10 hours of sleep in 2015; this number has stayed relatively consistent in the following years.
Three hours of sleep is not normal but has been normalized, with more importance being placed on school and extracurriculars than basic health. Students are pulling all-nighters every week and passing out in the middle of class from the exhaustion that plagues them.
Sleep deprivation harms students across the nation, decreasing the quality of their work and their life. Students should be able to wake up without a cup of coffee, feeling well rested and ready for the day to come. Schools, society and most importantly, the students themselves must stop viewing this debilitating epidemic as an everyday occurrence.
Photo courtesy of Medical News Today