Rachel Baran/used with permission
The Slumber Situation
Science shows how sleep affects mental, physical health
In everyday life, teenagers should get about 8-10 hours of sleep. It is an important function that the body needs in order to survive. Without it, or with very little of it, life becomes interrupted.
“Sleep is when your body replenishes chemicals it uses throughout the day and processes the day’s information,” AP Psychology teacher Mr. Jim Draher said. “While we sleep, the brain strengthens the neural pathways that help with memory.”
It is extremely vital that everyone sleeps regularly, and that they sleep for the right amount of time. However, it is especially important for students to rest appropriately. Lack of sleep can affect their school performance negatively.
“Lack of sleep can cause lack of concentration and memory,” Draher said. “It will be harder for students to be ready for school because it will be harder for our brain to function.”
Not only is sleep important for mental health, it is also important to physical health.
“Sleep is one of the most important things you can do to help you stay healthy,” Draher said.
While 8-10 hours of sleep is recommended in teens, that number can fluctuate. The body will adapt to what someone needs, whether it’s more or less.
“Some people need much sleep, some people don’t need as much,” Draher said. “Your body will let you know how much sleep you need.”
Sleep deprivation is a common problem amongst people, but most aren’t even aware of it.
“Are you hitting the snooze button multiple times,” Draher said. “That is a sign that your brain needs more sleep.”
The teenage brain functions much more differently than an adult brain. They require more sleep than an adult, but are easily susceptible to a changing sleep pattern.
“The sleep pattern for teenagers is not like the average adult,” Draher said. “The teen brain stays up later and prefers to sleep in.”
School performance becomes a noticeable concern when someone is lacking sleep. They tend to decrease in work ethic and quality and show less of an effort.
“Their attentiveness, task initiation and task completion are slowed and/or non-existent,” English teacher Mrs. Katelyn Bardin said. “It may be hard to budget a good amount of sleep in everyday life, but it is very important. Schoolwork and other added stressors can make it hard to rest properly; however it is vital to do so. Students need sleep in order to function properly, in both mind and body.”
“I think teens should still have a ‘bedtime’ on school nights,” Bardin said.
Teenagers don’t even realize that they’re sleeping less than they should be. They become so used to sleeping so little, that it becomes second nature to them. This is evident at Hoover High School in many students.
“I get about five hours of sleep a night,” junior Owen Fox said.
Even so, they still can pick out a difference in how they feel at school, yet they believe that what they’re sacrificing [sleep] is less important than school.
“I do notice an effect when I sleep less,” Fox said. “I notice that it gets hard to focus in class and my work [quality] tends to go down.”
The effects of sleep deprivation can alter performance in everyday life. It can affect school work and overall decision making.
“Not getting enough sleep impairs your ability to think clearly and make appropriate decisions,” MedTech teacher Mrs. Brea Knight said.
As well as the aforementioned effects, there can also be detrimental psychological effects to sleep deprivation.
“Studies have shown that teens experiencing sleep deprivation can have an increase in the risk of suicide as well as mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder,” Knight said.
Effects on the mind are not the only problems that follow a lack of sleep. Physical problems are just as prevalent, and even more dangerous.
“Additionally, a teen may be at higher risk of diabetes and long-term cardiovascular problems if sustained lack of sleep is a continued action,” Knight said.
Sleeping is one of the most important things a teenager can do. It is a source of healing both physically and mentally.
“When we can get into a deep sleep, it allows our body to repair muscle, organs and other body cells,” Knight said. “Our body also circulates chemicals in our blood streams that help strengthen our immune system.”