My peers and I are not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night (Opinion)

Sleeping schedules can affect a teenager’s productivity, mood, and overall health

Kaitlyn Randolph, Writer

Sleep is a big part of most teenagers’ lives: it’s how we gain our energy! Yet many teenagers I know, as well as myself, have trouble with maintaining a set sleep schedule. With electronics, homework, friends, and other factors, it’s easy to get distracted from the time or just overall feel that there is no need to sleep.

Sleep deprivation is something commonly seen with high school students but never something that is greatly discussed (at least by us). Not getting the recommended amount of sleep per night can lead to wellness issues and overall fatigue.

Sleeping may seem like an easy task for some, but for others, it is near impossible. Trouble with mental health, academics, and social life can all be part of the reason for teenagers’ sleep loss, which is why this subject needs to be discussed.

Ruthann Richter, director of media relations for Stanford Medical School’s Office of Communication & Public Affairs, stated, “According to the National Sleep Foundation poll, more than 87 percent of high school students in the United States get far less than the recommended eight to 10 hours.” Richter continued to explain, “The amount of time [teenagers] sleep is decreasing, [resulting in] a serious threat to their health, safety and academic success.”

The adolescents who make up that 87 percent of high school students who don’t get enough sleep may be experiencing different health implications such as exhaustion or lack of motivation, according to Richter.

“Sleep deprivation increases the likelihood teens will suffer myriad negative consequences, including an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide, and even suicide attempts.”

There are plenty of distractions that can interrupt a steady sleeping schedule, such as a hormonal time switch, exposure to light, sleep disorders, a crazy afternoon routine, or even social attitudes.

Rupal Christine Gupta of kidshealth.org said, “A teen who needs to wake up for school at 6 a.m. would have to go to bed at 9 p.m. to reach the 9-hour mark. Studies have found that many teens have trouble falling asleep that early, though. It’s not because they don’t want to sleep. It’s because their brains naturally work on later schedules and aren’t ready for bed.”

Personally, when I do not get enough sleep at night. I tend to snooze my alarms or even turn them off completely. Then, for the morning, I have to quickly get ready in order to catch the bus. Throughout the day, I may be partially falling asleep in my chair, which affects my participation within the classroom.

The recommended sleep time for teenagers is about nine to nine and a half hours per night, according to John Hopkins pediatrician Michael Crocetti; however, many teenagers get half of that or less. Some teenagers may run best on a full night’s sleep while other teenagers manage to run on a lot less sleep than the recommended amount.

“Teenagers are going through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturation [and] additional sleep supports their developing brain, [and] physical growth spurts,” Crocetti explained. “It also helps protect them from serious consequences like depression or drug use.”

Sleep has affected me when it comes to productivity the most. There was a time when I was on a normal sleep schedule; I went to bed at 9:30 p.m. and woke up at 5 or 5:30 a.m. every day. When I was on that set sleep schedule, it was easier for me to wake up and get things like homework or cleaning my room done.

A friend of mine gets about nine hours of sleep every night. Their day is not affected by the amount of sleep they get. Whether it be four hours or ten hours of sleep, they believe they’re not affected by their sleep schedule.

Currently, I do not have a sleeping schedule.  I fall asleep anywhere from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. and then wake up anytime before 7:45 a.m. so that I can get to class on time. I run on four to five hours of sleep every day, sometimes less. With how I am sleeping, I have noticed it is a lot harder to wake up in the mornings, get my school work done, and take care of other tasks like cleaning my room.

With different distractions like electronic devices and homework, it can be incredibly hard to get a good night’s sleep. Some ways to obtain that crucial rest are sleeping on the weekends, having a set nighttime routine, being active during the day instead of at night, and even keeping your bedroom dark.

When it comes to electronic devices, I tend to procrastinate. A lot. I will stay up until 11 or 12 playing video games, and right when I am about to go to bed, I realize I have homework due at 9:25 the following morning, which leads me to be awake for another hour or so. This leads me to snoozing my alarm and not waking up on time in the morning.

Sleeping can boost your immune system, your productivity throughout the day, your memory, and your overall mood, as seen here.

SCL Health said, “When your body gets the sleep it needs, your immune cells and proteins get the rest they need to fight off whatever comes their way — like colds or the flu. And according to the well-rested sleep specialists over at the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, proper sleep can also make vaccines more effective, which is obviously a plus.”

Teenagers can be affected in many different ways by getting little sleep at night, but no matter how you look at it, the more sleep someone is getting, the better. When distractions like electronics, homework, and social life impact our sleep schedule, it could be difficult to obtain that energy we need to perform everyday activities.