The Importance of Getting Sleep

 Katie Lin, Staff Writertumblr_o1u36nLtId1s2wio8o1_500

How many hours of sleep do you get per day? Do you stay up late every night?

According to Nationwide Children’s research statistics, most adolescents do not get enough sleep. On average, teenagers get about 7-7¼ hours of sleep each night, when most of them need about 9-9¼ hours of sleep to function normally. Sleep deprivation amongst teenagers has become a huge issue; not getting enough sleep can have many negative impacts. However, getting enough sleep is easier said than done.  Teenagers stay up for various reasons, including studying, browsing the internet, or doing extracurricular activities. How is it possible to get enough sleep, despite the distractions that most teenagers face every single day?

There are dozens of ways to get more sleep, but a few tried-and-tested methods work well on most people.

The very first method is not to consume any products that contain caffeine at night, as caffeine interferes with brain chemicals that cause sleep and makes you more energetic.

Another way is to avoid distractions during the night. The circadian clock (biological clock), which is controlled by the hypothalamus, regulates when a person feels tired in response to the amount of light to which the eye is exposed. So using devices and technologies that emit light can disrupt the clock, tricking the brain into thinking that it’s still light and there’s no need for the body to feel tired. Keeping your devices out of your room at night (or at least turned off) can help your clock to sense the darkness and signal your body to sleep. Another advantage to keeping technologies out of your sleeping environment: you can’t browse the internet at night, getting too distracted to sleep.  

Finally, maintaining a regular sleeping schedule can greatly help with sleep deprivation. Some people who are sleep-deprived tend to catch up on weekends, causing them to sleep in until noon, and then be wide awake at nightfall. Keeping a constant sleep schedule avoids disruption in your body’s patterns.

There are other inevitable factors that keep teens up, such as homework and extra-curricular activities. For those who are busy and struggling to sleep enough, it is recommended that they make and stick to a schedule on their busy days, so their activities/studying do not cut into their sleeping time.

Another great solution to help with sleep deprivation is time management; prioritize and avoid procrastination. Save the social media and TV shows for the weekends and focus on studying or completing homework, so you don’t have to stay up to do both.

Sleeping enough may sound doable now, but why? Numerous studies show that sleep-deprivation can increase the chance of heart diseases, obesity, diabetes, and cognitive issues. A  study comparing people who get 8 or more hours of sleep every night  to those who get 4-6 hours of sleep found that those who slept less suffered from cognitive problems like occasionally falling asleep during the day and having difficulty focusing. After a long period of time, people who do not get enough sleep show the same reaction time as those who are considered drunk. The issues can be fixed if they started sleeping more; however, if sleep is put aside for long enough  it can cause irreversible brain damage and other long-lasting effects – even death. These studies and statistics remind us everyone how important sleep really is, and the serious consequences that come with sleep-deprivation.

Adolescents tend to sleep later than children because of the 2-hour-shift in teenagers’ biological clocks, which causes them to sleep 2 hours later than they used to, and wake up 2 hours later. This is completely normal. However, if a teenager feels like they’re not getting enough sleep, then some action needs to be taken. Keep the cell phones and laptops out of your room, save the texting and video games for the weekends and go to sleep. Your body will thank you.

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