Self-Created Sleep Deprivation

How lack of sleep actually affects your health

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Kayley Anderson, Staff Reporter

Slipping grades, mood swings, lack of concentration, behavioral issues, accidents all have a common factor for teens: sleep deprivation.

The average teenager needs nine and a half hours of sleep for their brains to function properly; however, many don’t get anywhere close to that.

One study found that the average teen sleeps only about five and a half hours a night. This can have devastating consequences for our developing brains and may be the cause of some medical conditions like insomnia or restless leg syndrome.

“During the week I usually get around two to three hours of sleep a night,” said sophomore Carmen Miller. Carmen is not alone, for several other sophomores gave similar answers ranging from two to five hours during the week.

Sleep deprivation doesn’t just hurt our brains; it can also affect our school work and our moods. Everyone at some point has had trouble staying awake in class, but if it becomes a recurring circumstance, it can cause major problems.

A lot of schoolwork depends on focus and the ability to understand and remember what’s going on in our classes. If we are constantly falling asleep it’s pretty difficult to recall what happened, let alone put it into practice for tests and assignments.

“It’s hard sometimes, because I get so tired that I fall asleep without doing some of my homework,” said sophomore Kelly Augustine. “Then I have to rush to do it when I could’ve done better if I would’ve stayed up to do it in the first place.” Kelly is correct, as rushing to get your homework done the class period before is somewhat of an art among high school students.

Stressing about grades and being tired can cause some rapid mood swings too, especially during the dreaded finals week.

“It influences my mood. Which then probably influences my school work. But what’s happening is I’m not getting enough sleep because of school so it’s a cycle of school affecting sleep and sleep affecting school,” said senior Lauren Ramelb when asked how she thought lack of sleep affected her. The cycle Lauren talked about is a reality for many high school students who struggle with juggling school, sleep, and other activities.

Distractions are a big part of what causes sleep deprivation, especially in the technological age. Things like social media, texting, and Netflix can keep students up long after the homework has been put away.

Extra-curricular activities are great for enhancing your high school experience as long as you still have time to rest and regroup. Bad time-management can also causes problems and mess up the already hectic sleep schedule many teens are accustomed to.

Starbucks and Scooters may wake you up in the morning and taste heavenly, but unfortunately caffeine throws yet another wrench into your sleep cycle.

By minimizing these distractions and factors combined with good time management we can all rest a little easier and sleep a little sounder.