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How Sleep Deprivation Is Hurting Teenagers

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By Jerry Walters - - 5 Mins Read

What Is Sleep Deprivation?

Sleep deprivation results from the quantity (not getting enough) or quality (sleeping at the wrong time of the day) of sleep the human body gets.

When Should A Teenager Sleep? (The Quantity & Quality)

A teenager needs at least 9 hours of sleep daily at night. This means that sending a teenager to bed earlier does not translate to a good night's sleep as their circadian clock changes at this stage, and their body demands more sleep late at night than during the day or evenings.   Most teens today do not get enough restorative sleep & REM sleep. Restorative Sleep helps the body regain vitality after a long and stressful day, while REM sleep helps retain activities and memory lessons. So when a teen does not get up to 9 hours of sleep at night before waking up and preparing for school, it means that he is sleep deprived and may not even catch up even if he has lengthy sleep hours on weekends.  

Effects Of Sleep Deprivation

Every parent or guardian wants a "straight A" teenager, but this usually comes at a peril because they have to "burn out the night candle" to be seen as studious or at least making an attempt. As if that were not enough, early school start times keep them out of bed just before they can catch a good night's sleep.   One of the most sleep-deprived people in the world, the US, especially teenagers. Studies show that most teens do not get enough sleep or sleep at all. Scientists suggested that middle and high schools reduce their start time so teen students can have an improved sleep routine and, in turn, stable mental, physical, and emotional health that allows them to thrive in academics and other spheres.   Despite the obvious attempts by researchers, medical organizations, and The Centers for Disease Control to advocate a school routine that promotes the active health of teen students, most schools are still yet to employ these measures in their school system, creating a cycle of many more sleep-deprived teenagers in the US.   This led to a ripple effect of the following: 
  • Increased Drug Use & Abuse
High schoolers begin to turn to tobacco and other drugs to stay awake during the day and relieve drowsiness.
  • Unhealthy Weight Gain
Some teenagers turn to food as a comfort away from their sleep-deprived routines. This practice of impulsive and excessive eating makes more teenagers increase in weight and tend towards obesity.
  • Suicidal Attempts
Some of them can't simply handle the emotional and mental stress of not getting enough sleep daily. They usually bottle in their emotions until they can no longer process them independently and then resort to suicidal thoughts or attempts.
  • Increased Accident Rates
We've heard cases of car crashes that resulted from a drowsy teenager behind the wheels of a car.    It is unfair to claim that since most adults survived the early school start times, teenagers should learn to catch up and stop sulking. They nonchalantly have failed to recognize its adverse effect on these teenagers and how insensitive it is to expect them to "get over it" simply.    Some schools are beginning to adopt a later school start time, but many are still inflexible, although the proven claims of the effect sleep deprivation have on teenagers. School district administrators must prioritize this, and education boards must create a school routine that enhances teen health. If we help them nurture balanced all-around health at an early stage like this, we will be able to create a generation of adults better suited for the future.