After staying up until midnight, that report you’ve been working on for hours is finally finished. You go to sleep and after five minutes it seems like, the alarm clock buzzes at 6:00 a.m. for you to get up and start the school day.
Lack of sleep affects adult day-to-day tasks but in teens who are more inclined to sleep later, this can cause serious problems beginning in school. On average, teens should be getting anywhere from 9 to 9.5 hours of sleep. A study done by the National Sleep Foundation shows that only 15% of students receive 8.5 hours of sleep on weeknights.
As a result, students’ grades decrease profoundly because of lack of concentration and the inability to solve problemsto listen. When asked how sleep deprivation affects her in school, AHN student, Marianna Sotomayor, replies, “I usually get around six to seven hours of sleep on average. The main thing I notice when I don’t get enough sleep is that I cannot transmit my thoughts clearly and have problems explaining things verbally.”
Chiara Cirelli, associate professor of psychiatry at the School of Medicine and Public Health, says, “For instance, recent studies in humans have shown that five days with only four hours of sleep per night result in cumulative deficits in vigilance and cognition, and these deficits do not fully recover after one night of sleep, even if 10 hours in bed are allowed.”
Another major problem with lack of sleep is car accidents as a result of “drowsy driving.” When a person receives less than eight hours of sleep, he or she is more likely at risk to get in a car accident. When the amount of sleep falls below five hours, the risk heightens as much as 400%. When one is sleep deprived, he or she is as impaired as someone who is driving with a blood alcohol content of .08%, which is illegal for drivers in Florida and among other states, because reflexes are delayed. Failing to stay alert at the wheel can cause more than 100,000 car crashes a year so it is vital that teens are either getting sufficient sleep or having their parents drive them to school.
Long term effects of lack of sleep include diabetes and obesity. Researchers at the University of Chicago have proven that lack of sleep alters the body’s secretion of hormones. The changes increase appetite while decreasing the satisfaction of feeling full after a meal. These changes can contribute to weight gain and increase the risk of developing diabetes. Lack of sleep also results in a decreased role of the metabolism, turning sugars into fat. These side effects are not certain, but those receive a less amount of sleep are certainly at a higher risk.
Ultimately, death can occur because of sleep deprivation and consistently decreasing the amount of hours of sleep. The immune system is significantly suppressed because the making of white blood cells decreases as well as the remaining white blood cells. A study done in the United States, United Kingdom, European, and East Asian countries shows that those who slept less than six hours at night were at a 1.12 times greater risk of death in contrast with those who received six to eight hours of sleep.
Resolutions to solving this problem speak for themselves however with such busy school schedules, it is nearly impossible to be in bed by 9 p.m. For starters, students should eliminate any technology in their rooms such as the television, cell phone, or computer, etc. Second, teens should develop a schedule routine that allows their bodies to maintain consistency with their inner clocks. Finally, students need to make sleep their number one priority because sleep is just as vital as food and water.
So next time you want to stay up until midnight doing last minute studying for the AP Chemistry exam, think about the consequences, close the book, and get some shut-eye. Trust me, your body will thank you for it later on, and your grades may improve!