Katie Nguyen, Staffer

    Although sleep is an important part of the development and overall health, most teenagers don’t feel they get as much of it as they should. Sleep is essential for teenagers, especially since we experience the most growth during this time. So why do most teenagers fail to get an adequate amount of sleep every night?

     For some, the stress and responsibilities of the day can affect the ability of students to fall asleep at night. Stress can cause people to stay up later thinking about their day. Their mind races at nighttime, and they end up losing sleep. Stress can also often cause people to feel like their sleep is not as deep which can lead to them feeling unrested the next day. More often than not, the responsibilities of the next day weigh heavy on the minds of students: “What tests do I have to take tomorrow? What assignments are due? Do I have a quiz to take tomorrow?” These thoughts can prevent students from falling asleep at a reasonable time, and this leads to them feeling sleepy the next day. 

     “Some factors that contribute to my lack of sleep are procrastination on homework or stress from family/friend situations,” senior Paige Nguyen said.

     The tendency to stay up later than the average person is most prevalent in teenagers. Our bodies release melatonin, the hormone that promotes sleep, later at night. This causes teens to fall asleep later and wake up later. 

     “Sleep is the brain’s period of recovery and the point of sleeping is for our hormones to shut our brains down and reboot,” school nurse Kate Hale said.

     One night of going to sleep late is all it takes to ruin a teen’s sleep schedule. For a lot of people, messing up their sleep schedule is detrimental as it can affect their daily life dramatically. Fixing your sleep schedule is also a difficult task, especially if you are a student,  so this leads to a never-ending cycle of sleeping late and feeling groggy in the morning.

     “Our bodies follow a circadian rhythm which is its natural flow with the Earth’s day and night time cycle,” Hale said. “The more consistent your sleep schedule is the more stable your life will be.”

     Use of electronics before bed can contribute to loss of sleep. The bright lights technology emits can often prevent the release of melatonin earlier in the evening. Light also acts as a cue for the brain to stay awake. Using electronics before bed time reduces the amount of sleep teens get.

     “You should shut down all electronics 30 minutes before bed to give the brain time to recover from the bright lights,” Hale said. “The release of melatonin is delayed by the lights emitted.”

     Loss of sleep can have many negative effects on teens the next day. Most notice that they feel generally more irritable and moody. This can impact the interactions they have throughout the day and lead to long-term problems. During the school day, teenagers have noted difficulty concentrating and doing schoolwork when they don’t get enough sleep. This can lead to a decline in grades and the inability to complete work.

     “I cannot pay attention as much to class lectures,” Nguyen said. “I confuse myself with simple tasks, I become more irritated with my surroundings, or I feel overall sluggish and lazy.” 

     It is recommended that teenagers get eight to ten hours of sleep each night. This can be difficult when we have to balance school, family, and a social life. Although some may argue that it’s impossible, with some life changes, teens can get enough sleep. Teenagers can develop a  sleep schedule that works for them. It might be difficult at first to adhere to this schedule, but your body will thank you. 

     “A later start to the school day, more guidance in time-management, and better organization of homework,” Nguyen said. “These can all help teens get more sleep by giving them less time to stay up after procrastinating.”

     Some take naps after school to “recharge.” After school naps can help energize teens and motivate them to finish their work quicker which leads to them going to bed earlier. 

     “On days after mentally-exhausting exams or projects were due, I tend to take a nap from 5 to 7 p.m. to recover,” Nguyen said.

     Knowing your limits is definitely important. People who overload on work often go to bed later in the evening. If you are struggling, let someone know.