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Sleep Deprived

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Sleep Deprived

Jackson Michels, Reporter

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For adolescents, sleep is a major necessity for development, mental health, and overall well-being. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens need eight to ten hours of sleep each night to function effectively and properly, though studies show that only about 15 percent of teens get the required amount of sleep needed. On average, teens are only getting seven to seven and a half hours of sleep each night, and remember, that’s just an average. Sleep deprivation has more of an impact than you might think on teens.

The purpose of sleep is to recharge and rejuvenate the body from the day and prepare it for the next day. This means repairing muscle tissues, growing muscle, synthesis of hormones, and giving the brain a period of relaxation. Studies have shown that sleep also supports brain processes that are vital to learning, memory, and emotional regulation. This means that sleep deprivation can be destructive to teens ability to learn. Tired students who are dozing off in class are more focused on regaining that lost sleep then the lesson they are learning in school. Missing out on even one part of a topic can cause the whole thing to be out of order and confusing to students, meaning that on tests they have no clue how to answer questions and inevitably will get lower grades than others. The loss of sleep effects teens’ moods, and emotions, while lashing out or being out of normal behavior is just another effect of sleep loss that can have consequences. With other teens, and adults, we all know moody adolescents are just time bombs waiting to go off, and the sleep deprivation is shaving seconds off that time.

Sleep deprivation not only affects the ability for teens to learn and function on a day to day basis, but it also plays a huge part in mental health. Time and time again studies have linked sleep deprivation to mental disorders like anxiety and depression. The Journal of Youth and Adolescents found that each hour of sleep lost is associated to a 38 percent increase in depressing thoughts, such as sadness, loneliness, or hopelessness and a 58 percent increase in suicide attempts. They also found that people who sleep on average of 6 hours per night are three times more likely to suffer from depression. No one should have to feel that way or get those thoughts in their head, especially young teens who have a whole life ahead of them. Parents can help prevent this by encouraging that their kids go to be at an earlier time, or teens can take their health into their own hands and set their bedtime earlier. You might not get to play that last level in a video game, or watch that next episode on Netflix, but you’ll be doing yourself a favor.

For those who have trouble falling asleep or staying asleep, sleep aid medications may seem like a perfect solution to getting those extra hours of sleep that you need. But, that’s not entirely true. Sleep aid medications aren’t supposed to be used by people who are under the age of 18. But still, kids are prescribed sleep medications and take over the counter sleep aids to get the extra Z’s. This can lead to a dependency for these aids to fall asleep, and what about if the drugstore runs out of the substance you use to go to sleep? Is these situations, teens will be up for hours trying and trying to fall asleep but won’t be able to because they are adapted to going to sleep because of a chemical reaction in the brain. Developing this dependency can also open a gateway to illegal substances to fall asleep, like marijuana. Marijuana’s effects on teens already cause problems with development, but teens don’t weigh out the risks with the rewards. Marijuana can be used as a sleep aid, but for adults who are prescribed it, not teens who are buying the substance illegally, and not realizing the negative effects because they find a way to fall asleep.

The loss of sleep that teens experience take a toll on their life, and functioning of their bodies. Teens experience this first hand and any reading this article will agree in mass about the content stated. Mental health, drug dependency and use all are influenced by the amount of sleep that teens get each night. Going to bed a few hours earlier can make a huge difference in the lives and learning of teens. I hope that by reading this, you can think about how much sleep you get at night, and how much better your days can be with just that little bit of sleep you can get at night.


Sources

Gregoire, Carolyn. “5 Scary Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation During The Teen Years.” HuffPost, HuffPost, 31 Jan. 2018, m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_55a7bd07e4b04740a3df0fb3.

“Sleep in Adolescents.” Nationwide Children’s Hospital, www.nationwidechildrens.org/specialties/sleep-disorder-center/sleep-in-adolescents.

“Teens and Sleep.” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep.

“Why Do We Need Sleep?” National Sleep Foundation, sleepfoundation.org/excessivesleepiness/content/why-do-we-need-sleep.

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