Teenage Sleep Deprivation

Sydney Yelton, Guest Writer

Official studies from the CDC health department states that teenagers should be sleeping eight to 10 hours every night, although 73% of teenagers get less than this recommended amount. Most teenage students suffer from a form of sleep deprivation ranging from mild to severe, and studies show that this lack of necessary sleep has been linked to numerous negative health effects. 

A study from the Stanford Health Department showed that teenage students who suffered from lack of sleep increased their likelihood of not being able to focus in school. Aside from harming academics, lack of sleep also harms teens’ health and puts them in danger. The study showed that lack of sleep caused a decrease in driving abilities, a spike in anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide for many teens.

This process roots from a young age, and it’s been reported that many teenagers who suffer from sleeping problems at the age of 14 are more likely to develop mental disorders once they reach 16 and older. As school becomes more competitive and everyone strives to be on top, students start to sacrifice their own health in order to achieve greatness. 

In my own experience, I’ve been affected by some of these same things and have first-hand knowledge of how serious this issue is. For seven hours a day I attend school, rush home after, get ready and leave for soccer practice, then go home and immediately start my homework. This homework lasts hours and by the time I go to bed, I get between 4 to 6 hours of sleep a night before repeating this tedious process.

Although this is my unique experience, almost every other student is facing the same ordeal. Those who don’t play sports or have jobs instead, still have days just as busy, and also suffer from this problem. Going to school all day takes a big toll on your body and no matter what commitments you have after 3:05, students have to save time to stay up and work on homework. Many argue that if it’s causing such a big problem, teens should just take easier classes, although students should be able to take challenging courses without having to sacrifice their overall health. 

The ramifications of this lifestyle have a sizable effect on health for years on end. Not getting enough sleep at night causes students to stress more in the morning as they try to exhaustedly get ready and drive to school, knowing that this day will be just as fatiguing as the last. This affects kids outside of school too, for example, when I go to soccer practice or games after not sleeping well, I am not able to compete to my full extent because I am too physically tired.

This sleep cycle or lack thereof has also played a big role in my mental health. As I stay up late studying for tests and completing assignments, I think about the following results. These entail the fact that if I won’t get enough sleep that night, then will have to wake up to go take an important test that largely determines what my grade will be in that class. These things affect my GPA which dictates if I will get into a good college or not. This long train of repercussions increases my anxiety and causes me to not want to go to school some days. This cycle is what numerous students feel on a daily basis and my experience is only one of many, although I feel it accurately represents the situation at hand.

According to the Reuters Sleep Study, each night a person goes with insufficient sleep, their risk of mental health symptoms increases by 20%. This is an alarming fact that has had a harmful impact on countless numbers of students and a change needs to be made.

Moving school start time to 8:30 may help, but that doesn’t solve the problem of teens needing to stay up past midnight. This serious topic can be managed by making classes more engaging in order to get students to learn more at school, rather than trying to re-teach it to themselves late at night. This results in students just getting more frustrated and wasting time when they could be learning this effectively at school. Another option is for teachers to give more time in class for students to get their homework done with the advantage of having peers available to help them in the same classroom. Both these resolutions and others could have a tremendous impact on helping kids get their assignments done sooner which means less at-home work and more actual sleep.