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Sleep Deprivation and Teenagers

As a teenager and a first year post-secondary student, I can argue that as we get older, our amount of sleep gradually decreases. You have probably heard of the saying “The More, The Merrier,” and you might assume that according to this research paper, it means “The More Sleep, The Better,” but in reality and as a society, we believe that it means if you work more, do more, and do everything as fast as possible, you will achieve great success. The problem is that we have adapted to such a negative and wrong motto that it is affecting each and every single one of us teenagers.

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We need to be reminded of the consequences sleep deprivation has on important aspects of our lives, such as both mental and physical well-being, school, jobs, family, and relationships. Millions of students seek ways to keep themselves awake for a longer period of time and throughout the day. Popular culture has responded to our needs by creating material goods such as energy drinks, coffee, electronics, and pills. It might keep individuals awake and might make them believe that they are full of energy, but at what point does the body and mind get the required nine hours of rest in order to function to its maximum capability?

Students prioritize their lives but health seems to be one of the last on their mind. A recent survey by the American Academy of Sleep Medicine found that, “only 15% of teenagers regularly get the nine hours of sleep they need each night” (Foldvary-Schaefer, p. 9). This means Bhullar 2 that the other 85% are falling beneath the required amount. Lack of sleep can mean that the body is more vulnerable to diseases and virus attacks. At the same time it can interfere with memory, concentration, mood swings, mental abilities, and weight gain, just to name a few.

Such things can lead to other problems like bulimia, loss of job, failure in school, and physical accidents. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, there are as many as 100,000 car crashes every year involving a drowsy driver. Over half of the crashes involved adolescence (Thorpy, p. 6). If you give attention to the transformation between early years of elementary school and later years in secondary school, you’ll notice the change in sleeping habit and workload. The younger you are, the earlier you fall asleep; the older you are, and the later you fall asleep.

As our bodies hit puberty, it experiences a shift in circadian rhythm, the body’s 24-hour clock (Behrens, p. 469). This means that younger children tend to feel tired around eight or nine at night, where as teenagers’ circadian clocks shift to a later sleep time of ten or eleven at night. The need to feel more like adults, by having an active night life seems to only add to the late night sleep. And on the other hand, movies, television programs, internet surfing, facebook-ing, and texting are added to the normalized lifestyle.

Our school systems also play a big part in loss of sleep. Secondary schools and Post-Secondary schools have a stronger workload than that of elementary schools. Although you might believe that the amount of homework that students are assigned is the main reason that older students are sleep deprived or buried in books, it is not. The second reason is the scheduling. Older teenagers are expected to attend school at an earlier time, and complete all course assigned homework.

At the same time they are expected to study to achieve high grades Bhullar 3 in order to start a career, to work at a job in order to learn the responsibilities as young adults, to succeed at making their parents proud, and to have a good time in order to enjoy life. As generations are introduced to the world, our culture continues to be developed. Parents believe that adolescence have an easy stress-free life and should be capable of achieving success by spending the least amount of time to achieve it.

When in reality, adolescence are living a life almost identical to those of adults, and if anything, adults have fewer stresses. It is most likely that every house hold has at least one family issue which causes stress upon the children. Grown-ups, or people in general who are involved in these issues, seem to be blind to the affect it has upon others within the family. These kinds of situations also have an impact on sleeping habits and teenagers. The environment that we are surrounded by day-to-day is what influences the way we think.

Apart from the relationship between family members, adolescence in different communities are maturing a lot faster and creating bonds between themselves and a mate a lot earlier in their lives. What is lost in this process for young teenagers is the knowledge of the negative affects that these relationships that they create have on their lives. It creates more responsibilities, therefore more stress. In a first person’s point of view, when you are in a serious and deep relationship, it can control the way you feel and act.

Teenagers tend to be more stubborn, which means that if there is an issue in the relationship, they are most likely going to withstand talking to each other which, in most cases, causes problems falling asleep. Responsibilities are one of the key elements to life, and with it you may get something in return. Money being one of the outcomes requires knowledge in how to earn it, save it, and spend it. As parents, it is an important facet to life that should be taught at an early age in order Bhullar 4 to master it when you are older.

Because of this, more and more young teens are forced to get a job and pay for their wants and needs on their own. There are two main points to this idea. The first being that a job alone would cause a lot of stress on an individual and if there is an issue, whether it has to do with the job or something else, it would cause problems that may lead to a loss of employment. Teenagers already struggle with stress, and working harder to keep a job or having to live off of what you have saved up because you may have lost your job, would only add to it.

If you pay attention to the thinking process that adolescence must go through almost every day, it can or may have already resulted in stress. As I have previously stated, stress results in sleep deprivation. “We can’t learn to sleep less. While some people might adapt to sleep loss, and sleep necessity varies, sleep is biological function. There is no substitute for it” (Foldvary-Schaefer, p. 6). Although there are many consequences that are created by loss of sleep, there are ways that we are able to fix these problems. The main cure is simply sleep.

But for those of us teenagers who have made it a habit to fall asleep late at night and wake up early in the morning, we are able to re-prioritize our lives. We are able to do things to release the stress that keeps us awake at night, and we are still able to enjoy life to its fullest. What we need to do is sleep at least eight or nine hours of sleep a night, if we need to take a nap, take one no longer than twenty to thirty minutes long before three in the afternoon. Exercise or go for a run two to three hours before going to bed in order to release any worried thoughts or stress.

Limit your caffeine intake and try to avoid smoking and drinking alcohol as much as possible. Don’t go to sleep hungry, nor go to sleep on a full stomach, and take a nice relaxing shower before getting ready for bed to calm your entire body (Foldvary-Schaefer, p. 195). Bhullar 5 Sleep may not seem as important as it is, but without sleep, we wouldn’t get anywhere in life. Teenagers need to be aware of the consequences it has on our physical and mental health, school, jobs, family, and relationships if we were to let our body suffer from loss of sleep.

Our body and mind need the right amount of hours of rest in order for us to feel fresh and able to complete and deal with tasks that are given throughout the day. We should try and avoid as much stress as possible and make an effort to clear our minds before settling down at the end of the night. As of now, we should all adapt to a more positive motto: “If you work more, do more, and do everything as fast as possible, you will achieve great success, as long as you let your body recover from a long hard day’s work and give your mind a good night’s rest. ”