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The Monthly Roar

The Monthly Roar

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Students

We know sleep is important but what does it really mean for your body, and how can you ensure you’re getting the right amount of sleep for you?

The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Students

Why is sleep so important

You’ve heard people say teens need more sleep than anyone else countless times, but it’s actually true and sleep deprivation can have a huge impact on students and their ability to focus. According to Johns Hopkins pediatrician Micheal Crocetti, teens need around 9 hours of sleep at the minimum each night, which isn’t the case for 90% of students in America. An adequate amount of sleep is vital for your mind and body to function properly, limiting that amount of sleep can cause mental burnout, lack of focus, and even depression. At Maryvale, 92.7% of students reported getting less than 9 hours of sleep a night and 24.4% of them get 5 or fewer hours, due to various reasons such as after-school activities, overwhelming amounts of homework, or just choosing to stay up. 

We know that this reported lack of sleep can impact focus in the classroom, but how? Long periods when you’re not utilizing your brain, like sleeping, is when it takes the chance to store and organize all information it has received throughout the day and make room for gaining new information. If you don’t allow your brain enough time to complete this the information in your head can get scrambled up or easily forgotten. It also makes retaining new information that much more difficult, resulting in your inability to focus. 82% of students at Maryavle admitted to okay or worse focus in classes, and 70.5% attributed this lack of focus to the amount of sleep they get further proving that a good night’s sleep is one of the key components in your quality of work at school, showing just how much of an issue the loss of sleep sleep awareness is to our school in particular. 

Sleep also improves your mood by giving your brain more time to process different hormonal changes that result in your various emotions. A good mood from proper sleep is also a big contributor to your classroom life since a happy mind is an open one, meaning if you are not dealing with other negative emotions while trying to learn it makes it much easier to focus on the lesson. 

Drowsiness caused by lack of sleep can cause one to lose awareness of what is going on around them. This is especially important in high school with the abundance of new drivers. Drowsy drivers reportedly cause thousands of car accidents each year. Good sleep is vital to keep your senses, reaction time, and decision-making on the road sharp.

In very extreme circumstances, exponential loss of sleep can cause various long-term diseases such as heart disease, kidney disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, stroke, and obesity. Eric J. Olsen from the Mayo Clinic reports, “Sleep deprivation may decrease production of these protective cytokines. In addition, infection-fighting antibodies and cells are reduced during periods when you don’t get enough sleep.” Meaning sleep is required for your body to generate the certain cells and antibodies necessary for fighting disease. 

How to get more sleep

So, now that you have read a bunch of facts about why a good night’s sleep, at least 9 hours, is so significant, let’s highlight some strategies for achieving this. Turning off electronics half an hour before bed is important to quiet your mind before going to sleep. Reporter Rob Newsom of Sleep Foundations writes, “Blue light suppresses the body’s release of melatonin, a hormone that makes us feel drowsy… Exposure to blue light in the evening can trick our brain into thinking it is still daytime, disrupting circadian rhythms and leaving us feeling alert instead of tired.” Instead of scrolling on your phone, you can use an activity such as your night routine, meditation, journaling, or reading to prepare for sleep instead.

A regular sleep schedule is another crucial contributor to good sleep. Constantly changing up your sleep schedule, the time you go to bed and wake up, can cause confusion within your brain and might make it more difficult for you to fall asleep at night. It is important to figure out what schedule works ] for you and try to stick to it as best you can. You can determine the exact amount of sleep your body needs by experimenting with different sleep times. This requires a 9-day trial. On the first day set your timer to sleep for 7 hours and decrease your sleeping amount by half an hour each night, ending with 11 hours. Keep track of which nights you feel the most rested, you may need to try multiple rounds of the experiment to get the most accurate results. Once you find the number of hours of sleep that suits you best start making sure you get about that much sleep every night. 

The last tip to sleeping better is aimed at helping you fall asleep quicker. If you have a constant stream of thought at night and find it challenging to quit your mind and drift into a peaceful sleep, it is helpful to employ breathing techniques that help slow your heart rate and force you to focus on only one thing. 4-7-8 breathing has proven to be the most effective in relaxation. You inhale slowly through your nose for 4 seconds, hold that breath for 7 seconds, and exhale slowly through your mouth for 8 seconds, repeat the process and soon will find yourself drifting into sleep. If this breathing technique doesn’t work for you there are many others including box breathing and belly breathing that might work better for you, it all depends on the person. 

Believe me, I know it is not always as easy as it sounds but through a good schedule and implementing these techniques your quality of sleep is guaranteed to improve and lead you toward a smarter, healthier life. It is critical that you make an effort to better your sleeping habits for the sake of your mental and physical fitness. Pushing yourself too far as teens have a tendency to do, on not enough sleep can cause serious health problems.


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About the Contributor
Hi, My name is Sloane Weathington and I am a sophomore here at Maryvale. This is my second year writing for the school paper. I really enjoy researching and reporting on important events going on within the school and the rest of the world. I am looking forward to the opportunity to further inform my classmates and spread my ideas.
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