Some studies show as high as 90% of American high school students are chronically sleep deprived. Other say on average, 71% of female teens and 66% of male teens report insufficient sleep on school nights.
A CDC study shows that a lack of sleep made teens “significantly” more likely to engage in risky — and potentially life-threatening — behaviors, including drinking and driving, texting and driving, riding with a drunk driver, infrequent use of a seat belt and infrequent use of a bicycle helmet.
As a teenager, sleep hygiene may be the last thing on your mind, however, sleep is critical for many processes of life. Maybe you think that you can skimp on sleep with no ill-effect but reflect on this:
- Getting the right amount of sleep will make it easier to sustain a healthy weight.
- Growth hormones are released when you are asleep; these are necessary for growth and proper metabolism.
- Going without sleep can make it difficult to focus and remember things – not good for your grades!
- Concerning grades, missing sleep will make it harder to cope with stress which can come from school, parents, and peers.
- You are more likely to get the blues when you are sleep deprived.
- Sleep deprivation can lead to skin breakouts.
- When you are sleep deprived it is dangerous to drive.
Do you find drifting off troublesome? If you struggle to stop your brain from going into overdrive here are a few plausible reasons:
Your circadian rhythm alters in your teen years so waking and sleeping times start to become later. Most likely you would rather stay up late at night but the struggle to get up in the morning is real.
One way to remedy this is to have a routine that you follow consistently.
Your school day starts early which means that you have to get up before you feel you’ve had enough sleep. Your teacher probably won’t wait on you to get a few more Z’s, but if you have a consistent routine to follow with regular sleep and wake times your body will stop fighting against waking up so hard! Try to do the same things at around the same time each night so that your body has time to prepare for sleep and relax.
In addition to a routine, you might consider what role diet plays in the quality of sleep you get. Using sugar, caffeine, and energy drinks will make it harder to get a good night’s sleep leaving you restless throughout the night.
Eating regular meals, exercising and getting outdoors on a daily basis will help you to sleep better at night. Using alcohol and tobacco products will also disrupt sleep, it is best to avoid these for health reasons anyway! Avoid sleeping pills and over the counter medications for sleep as they can be dangerous and harm your health.
Not getting right the amount of sleep can cause weight gain. Stress can keep you from sleeping well so take the time to keep yourself organized to cut back on the feeling of being overwhelmed. Being organized can help you avoid last minute preparation and all night study sessions.
If pressure begins to disrupt your sleep on a regular basis, it is important to speak with your parents, teachers or a guidance counselor.
Avoid activities other than sleep such as homework, gaming, etc. in your bed as doing so will help you to associate your bed with sleep. If you are waking with pain or you are finding it difficult to get comfortable at night, you may need to rearrange your room, change your sheets, or even rotate your mattress.
So, how do you know if you are not getting adequate sleep? Ask yourself these questions:
1. Are you usually finding it tough to get up in the morning?
2. Do you find yourself often feeling unhappy, anxious or depressed?
3. Do you often find it difficult to focus, concentrate, and pay attention in class or when doing school work?
4. Are you falling asleep in class?
5. Do you feel so fatigued it is hard to exercise?
Very often, if the answer is yes, getting better quality and higher quantity of sleep will alleviate the problem. If sleep doesn’t fix it, then it is time to see your doctor.
Perhaps one solution is allowing high school students to begin and end their day later than elementary and middle school students. According to research,
the sleep patterns of the teenage brain are different from those of younger children and adults. Due to the biology of human development, the sleep mechanism in teens does not allow the brain to naturally awaken before about 8 a.m. This often gets into conflict with school schedules in many communities. In addition, the adolescent body does not begin to feel sleepy until about 10:45 p.m.
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Sleep-deprived teens are a real danger to society By Catey Hill, Marketwatch
Why do teenagers need more sleep? Jens-Olaf Walter, CC BY-NC