Teenage Sleep Deprivation

When it is time to go to bed at night and you are not tired but yet you are, you may suffer from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation is the condition where you are not getting enough sleep. It is also known as insufficient sleep or sleeplessness. Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11.00 pm.  Sleep is like food for the brain. You need sleep to keep you going throughout the day. When you don’t get enough sleep, it can be very harmful not only to yourself but to others also. Sleep loss can affect you in many ways. For example, you can be subject to bad mood swings, being cranky, or you might not get along with your family at times. Drowsiness and falling asleep during class or even when you are behind the wheel, are other possibilities. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), falling asleep behind the wheel causes more than 100,000 car crashes every year. Using screen-based devices, hectic after school schedules, leisure activities, light exposure, can contribute to a vicious cycle which causes a teenager’s brain to become more active. Lack of sleep can cause a hormonal time shift when you are up late trying to get your homework done. Your brain makes itself stay up longer so you are able to finish your work. Not only does your brain do this when you want to get something done but when you are watching screens also. 

After learning more about sleep deprivation it led to having an interview with a high school student who had trouble sleeping. Her bedtimes ranging from 12 to 2 am. The student states that “One day I could handle things just fine, but then other days I feel like crying and don't want to go to school or be around anyone.” Your body produces melatonin to help you sleep and control your sleep-wake cycles. This young teen’s body has trouble producing this, so to go to bed she takes sleeping pills such as melatonin, and Excedrin PM. She decided that to get a better night’s rest she would have to get rid of the app TikTok or put her phone in a different room so she wouldn't get on it during the night. 

Talking to a teacher in the building offered some insight, especially an anatomy teacher, Mr. Estill. “We live in a world that values being busy and teenage students have a plethora of activities to choose from.  We all try to do a little more and do it a little better and add things in slowly over time. Pressure takes over and we start to make small sacrifices, like sleep, to get everything done and promise ourselves we will catch up on the weekend. This can easily spiral out of control. The Center for Disease Control reports that ⅔ of all adolescent students don’t get eight hours of sleep each night,” stated Estill.  This is one of the many ways students can develop this condition. 

Sleeping can help with a bunch of things like managing stress, eating better, and depression. The NSF released a poll that calculated depressive mood scores for adolescents. The four most common moods were the following: unhappy, sad or depressed, felt hopeless about the future, felt nervous or tense, and worried too much about things. Teenagers from the ages of 14-17 years need from 8-10 hours of sleep each night. They need those hours of sleep to be optimally alert. If you are a parent and you are worried about your child becoming sleep deprived, you can change just a few little things to help them get a better night’s sleep. Managing how long they are on their phone or electronics before they go to bed, and allowing your child to sleep in on weekends can help. Also, you could encourage your teen to take afternoon naps, but not too long so they can't sleep at night. When you enforce these rules or suggestions you should see some improvements in your children.  Many people suffer from sleep deprivation. If you are one of them, contact a local sleep disorder clinic. If you don’t have one near you, search for options online.