DAA Daily

How Lack of Sleep Affects Teenagers

By Mia Stevens, Staff Reporter, The Pawprint

A jarring 73% of highschool students suffer from not getting a healthy amount of sleep. There are many contributing factors to teen sleep deprivation or lack of energy. Sleep is crucial at any age but specifically in adolescents sleep is essential to their growth and development. Sleep helps with concentration, motivation, reduces stress and benefits our overall wellbeing and mental health. 

As puberty comes around and it’s harder for teens to obtain an adequate amount of sleep. It is crucial that teens have optimal opportunities to sleep so that they can accommodate for the rapid period of physical, cognitive and emotional development. As a developing body it’s common that the circadian rhythms (A circadian rhythm, or circadian cycle, is a natural, internal process that regulates the sleep–wake cycle and repeats roughly every 24 hours) shift, which cause teens to want to go to bed and wake up later. When teens fall into this habit it affects their REM sleep which ultimately can harm the body and mind. According to Shashank Joshi, MD “Sleep is believed to help regulate emotions, and its deprivation is an underlying component of many mood disorders, such as anxiety, depression and bipolar disorder.” 

Another concern caused by sleep deprivation is substance abuse and risky behavior. This is stemmed from lack of sleep because without the recommended 8 hours teens lack impulse control and suffer from impared judgement. For example reckless driving, alcohol/substance abuse and neglecting grades. It’s also more common that teens with an irregular sleep schedule are more likely to use stimulants like caffeine and nicotine more excessively to a point it’s unhealthy. It’s important to take action when noticing these patterns with yourself or, if you’re a parent, your child. 

Getting into the habit of limiting screen time before bed and adopting a well rounded night routine will help break this cycle. According to sclhealth.org the blue light emitted from your cell phone screen restrains the production of melatonin which is the hormone that is part of your sleep and wake cycle and helps us fall asleep. Flashing lights from your TV screens or the high brightness from your phone interrupts and reduces your REM sleep making it much harder to wake up in the morning and fully function throughout the day. 

After taking evidence from highschool students at DAA, there was an obvious pattern that screen time before bed was harmful to their sleep and energy the next day. Omar Masri gave us a description of his before bed schedule, “I go to sleep around 11 and try to wake up by 6. Before bed I make sure to get in a good and healthy dinner, and read some of my book. Then by 9:45 I’m usually on tiktok until I fall asleep.” Now although it’s great he’s eating a healthy dinner and relaxing his brain by reading, watching tiktok to put him to sleep contributes to his struggles in waking up the next morning and sustaining energy throughout the day. However it’s as simple as switching up the order of his routine that can help with this problem. For example watching tik tok before dinner, then eating, getting ready for bed and reading a book to fall asleep without using your phone within that time, would be much more beneficial. Another example from highschool student Defne Eldem, “I go to bed at least by midnight, no earlier. I’m usually on my phone a lot before or I’m watching netflix.” This sleep pattern is extremely, if not the most common, in teenagers and students. 

Although in this generation it’s normalized, again it is the frequent reason for decline in grades, lack of impulse control, and underlying mood disorders. Taking new steps to a well rounded routine will show positive changes in teens now and approaching teens.

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