Think you get enough sleep every night? If you are like the majority of teens, you probably don’t. Getting enough sleep is crucial for all humans, but especially for teens. Their brains are developing rapidly, so they need more sleep than adults. Yet, according to a National Sleep Foundation poll, “more than 87 percent of high school students in the United States get far less than the recommended eight to ten hours.”
One problem is that teens’ biological makeup tells them to go to sleep late and wake up late. This is due to the fact that melatonin, the sleep hormone, isn’t produced until later in the evening and lasts well into the morning, making it hard for teens to fall asleep early and wake up early for school. As stated by Ms. Ginsberg, a health and English teacher at Las Lomas, “The school schedule doesn’t really work with how students naturally want to sleep at this age.”
Another issue that contributes to teens not getting enough sleep is schedules that demand so much of their time. They go to school all day, then to a sport, maybe band practice, then home to do homework, and much more. With so much to do, many teens feel that they don’t have enough time to sleep. Emi Eckhaus, a sophomore at Las Lomas, is one example. “I have a lot of homework and things after school that I have to do. I just don’t have time to sleep.”
With so many distractions in the world, it makes sense that getting enough hours of sleep is hard. It’s easy to think, “I will finish my homework in 15 minutes, then I will sleep.” or “Just one more Netflix show and then I will go to bed.” However, the consequences of sleep deprivation are severe.
Some results of sleep deprivation in teens include increased risk of injuries, weakened immune system, memory issues, mood swings, and lack of ability to concentrate and learn. In order to succeed in life and do well in school, students need to be able to learn, memorize, concentrate, and interact with others. When your body doesn’t have the time at night to do important things like rejuvenate, repair muscles, and release hormones, you won’t be able to function properly the next day, which can lead to a decline in grades and overall put you in a bad mood.
When asked how lack of sleep affects her in school and in sports, Abbey Bear, a sophomore, replied, “I am more fatigued and tired and I don’t put as much energy into what I do.” Bradeon Lynch, also a sophomore at Las Lomas, expressed a similar idea about the consequences of not getting enough sleep: “Sometimes when I don’t get enough sleep, if I have water polo that night, I don’t want to go. In school I will be really tired and fall asleep in class, and so it’s not good.”
Not getting enough sleep has a bad effect on your body; however, there are many strategies to help you get to sleep and manage your time so you don’t have to pull all nighters. According to Health Line, it’s important to develop a sleep routine where you go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day of the week. Emi Eckhaus explained her sleep schedule, “It’s very irregular; I just go to sleep whenever I’m done with my homework during the weekday. During the weekends, I usually stay up with friends, and we just don’t sleep, or we stay up super late.” This irregular sleep pattern can actually make it harder to fall asleep.
Some other strategies to help you go to bed are getting enough exercise so you are more tired at night, eating a healthy diet, and sleeping in a comfortable environment. Ms. Ginsberg even sets a timer to let her know when to go to bed. “Something that helped me was just setting a bedtime alarm. My alarm would go off at 9:30 or 10:00 pm and that would be it. Whatever you’re doing, stop, it is time to go to sleep.” Abbey Bear has another strategy to help her get to bed at a reasonable time: “I try to turn my phone off a half an hour before bed and try not to look at computer screens.” The blue light from your phone signals your brain to stay awake, so turning it off an hour before bed can be very beneficial.
It is important to find a balance between getting enough sleep… and sleeping too much. You know that many teens are sleep deprived, but it is actually possible to get too much sleep! According to The Sleep Doctor, studies have shown that students who get more than the recommended 10 hours of sleep for a prolonged period of time can wake up feeling groggy, have trouble concentrating, and experience mood swings. These are the same side effects of sleep deprivation! Of course, the occasional night where you get a few extra hours of sleep will do no harm.
Your body’s sleep cycle of 8-10 hours is important to stick to in order to feel your best and perform well in life. Getting that extra hour of sleep one night and giving up one Netflix episode can help you overall feel happier, healthier, and become more efficient with your time!