Sleep deprivation in teens
Sophie Zhang, Staff Writer
February 28, 2012
Filed under News
The age-old debate ensues over whether teenagers get enough sleep. While the National Sleep Foundation recommends that teens receive a minimum of 8.5 hours of sleep per night, few teens follow this suggestion. Shelby Arguelles (9) reported that her usual weekday sleep hours are from midnight to 6 a.m., which is a total of only 6 hours per night. Arguelles explained, “Mostly, it’s my homework and extracurriculars that are keeping me up. I don’t have enough time for everything after track practice. Then school comes along, and I get kind of sleepy.” She represents the average student whose schoolwork and activities prevent her from achieving the minimum amount of sleep.
Students agreed that their lack of sleep did not affect their academic or social lives, but they revealed that their course load, extracurricular activities and social time were cutting into sleep time. Sarah Gilbert (11) divulged that homework as well as her job affects the amount of sleep she gets. She said, “When I get less sleep, I get stressed out and my body works harder to stay awake. I’ll stay up late to do homework and then wake up late.” Heer Bhurji (9) also credited her lack of sleep to her homework, tennis practices and the gateway of her social life, her phone. Bhurji said, “I’d like to sleep more when I do sports, but I can’t. Not sleeping as much – it doesn’t affect my social life or grades”. Both these students have experienced the negative effects of sleep deprivation, yet they continue to try to fit in all their activities within their limited schedules.
Adults disagree with the younger generation over the necessary duration of sleep and its negative effects. French teacher Christele Poppas believed that the minimum of 8.5 hours per night is not enough for students. Poppas elaborated, “When I was younger, I needed around nine hours of sleep each night [Teenagers] may not realize it now, but not getting enough sleep may lead to health problems in the future.” Poppas reiterated, “There is a direct connection between the amount of sleep and their focus in the classroom. I see the kids with such busy schedules who cannot keep their eyes open in my class. They are not attentive to the lesson I am giving, and before they know it, the work is piling up. The negative cycle continues.” Health teacher Tim Hunter cautioned that even though the negative effects do not show in students’ academic performance, they do show in everyday life. “In the classroom, they have poor concentration, and they aren’t as aware when they’re doing everyday tasks.” He acknowledged that students could fit in all their work and activities and still get enough sleep if they exercised better time management skills. These two teachers both warn students about the negative consequences of sleep deprivation from their experience with students in the classroom.
The differing opinions regarding the appropriate amount of sleep are separated by age. Teenagers would like more sleep, and their motivation to keep up with all their commitments propel their strength to persevere. Adults warn against limited sleep because of its negative ensuing consequences. Sleep deprivation evidently has negative health consequences for students. Teens must realize that with better time management skills they can continue to participate in their activities and maintain an adequate amount of sleep. Although there is no blanket method, students must find a way to balance their schedules and get enough sleep for the sake of their emotional and physical well-being.