One blaring light surrounded by darkness. Mindlessly scrolling. A list of overwhelming assignments and responsibilities that seem to never end. Fighting to wake up in the morning and stay awake during the day, fatigue due to a lack of sleep. Tired.
The amount of sleep a person gets can affect them dramatically depending on the individual. But to everyone, an adequate amount of sleep is vital. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, getting a decent amount of sleep can help with physical and mental health, safety, and overall quality of life. In kids and teens, sleep is key to growth and development (nhlbi.nih.gov).
Sleep deprivation is a common problem in the United States, affecting people of all age groups. Sleep deprivation is a condition in which a person doesn’t get enough sleep. It can have instant or long-term consequences (like increased risk of health problems) because the body’s internal clock, known as the circadian rhythm, affects every cell, tissue, and organ in the body (nhlbi.nih.gov).
Certain groups of people may be more susceptible to a lack of sleep than others. People who take medication that interferes with sleep, have long work hours, have more than one job, or have health problems like anxiety are just some that are more likely to be sleep deficient, and therefore, sleep deprived. Nonetheless, a more connected and prone group is high schoolers (nhlbi.nih.gov).
“I think high school is the real danger spot in terms of sleep deprivation,” said Dr. William Dement, MD, Ph.D., founder of the Stanford Sleep Disorders Clinic (stanford.edu). According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 72.7 percent of high schoolers do not get enough sleep on school nights. The recommended hours of sleep for that age group is eight to ten hours a day.
Dr. Nanci Yuan, MD, director of the Stanford Children’s Health Sleep Center, has a lot of thoughts on the subject. “With academic demands and extracurricular activities, the kids are going nonstop until they fall asleep exhausted at night. There is not an emphasis on the importance of sleep, as there is with nutrition and exercise. They say they are tired, but they don’t realize they are actually sleep-deprived,” said Yuan (stanford.edu).
“On average, I get a little less than five and a half hours of sleep a night,” said Sophomore Corrie Dudley. Dudley balances a school and club sport, multiple advanced classes, homework, and studying; that’s definitely a lot to juggle. Schedules and responsibilities like these can drastically affect lives, especially for kids and teens. It’s important for students to allow time for responsibilities but also have enough time to get a healthy amount of sleep.
Some ways of improving sleep habits are having a consistent sleep schedule, using the hour before bed as quiet time (avoiding strenuous activity and artificial light like computer screens), and avoiding large meals and caffeine before bed (nhlbi.nih.gov).
Sleep deprivation is quite common and can have serious effects on physical and mental health and overall quality of life. Students’ responsibilities are important, but a healthy amount of sleep is essential for a strong performance in daily life.