While having good days and bad days of sleep, Jenny Lee, a junior at Sierra Canyon High School has been inverting her sleep hours since the beginning of her junior year. According to Lee, who now has four AP classes, she gets home at around 5 p.m. every day after extracurriculars, and she is way too tired to do any of her homework, instead, she decides to take a nap to regenerate some energy. She usually sleeps until 12 a.m. and continues working on her school work, which takes about four hours minimum to finish.
“I feel the effect of [lack of sleep] every single day: I can’t get out of bed, and I feel nauseous. Obviously, more sleep is better for like everything, even with my mood, and I am definitely tired every single day. Even if I get my seven hours of sleep, which is like once a week maximum. I still feel tired the next morning, and I don’t know why,” Lee said.
While this may not surprise anyone, it is now a common perception that people stay up all night to study, work, or have fun—we are now a society that burns the candle at both ends. However, according to Stanford Medicine News Center, sleep deprivation can lead to an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, and even suicide attempts. The National Sleep Foundation poll studied that more than 87 percent of high school students in the United States are sleep deprived, and get far fewer hours of sleep than what is recommended, while the amount of time they sleep continues to decrease.
According to the National Institutes of Health, the average adult sleeps less than seven hours per night. In today’s fast-paced society, six or seven hours of sleep may sound pretty good. In reality, though, that little sleep may lead to chronic sleep deprivation; studies show that an average of 9 ¼ hours of sleep is needed for teenagers to get out of sleep debt.
“I am keeping up with the current research, which kids definitely need their sleep in order to have all the growth hormone so that their brain can develop because until age 25, the frontal lobe of the brain really isn’t fully developed. [The brain functions:] repair, leaning, and the level of hormones get to a normal level happen when people go into deep sleep,” Sierra Canyon High School Director of Student Learning and Wellness Gary Malare said. “Unfortunately, since colleges are becoming more difficult, students will set higher goals that bring them to greater workloads and everyone becomes more competitive.”
Study show that people are sleep deprived if they need an alarm clock in order to wake up on time, feel sluggish in the afternoon, need to nap to get through the day or fall asleep within five minutes of going to bed. Considering the effect of chronic lack of sleep, people really should start planning their sleep schedule and try to balance things. Aiming for getting at least seven and a half hours of sleep every night – consistency is the key. Even pick a week that has a flexible schedule to take a “sleep vacation” to pay off your long-term sleep debt. It is just as necessary as scheduling time for school and other commitments –people should also schedule enough time for sleep.