top of page
  • Akwele Lokko, AAHS

The Dangers of Sleep Deprivation

Credit: Adobe Stock Image

In 2019, Daylight Saving Time ended on November 3. Conceived of by Ben Franklin in 1784, but not adopted by the United States until March 9, 1918, Daylight Saving Time was established as a way to save energy, and in the 20th century when the Standard Time Act was legislated, to contribute to the World War One war effort. Despite this history, for today’s general public, the end of Daylight Saving Time mostly just means gaining an extra hour of sleep.

Sleeping is very important for one’s mental and physical health, and it also impacts productivity and alertness. Unfortunately, sleep deprivation, or a lack of adequate sleep, is a common problem, especially among teenagers. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a number of issues.

According to the National Institute of Health (NIH), being sleep deprived can negatively affect a person’s health in many ways. First of all, sleep deprivation can lead to an increased risk of heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, diabetes, and high blood pressure. Secondly, a lack of proper sleep can negatively affect growth and development in children and teens, as sleep is necessary for those processes to take place. Additionally, sleep deprivation can weaken the immune system, since the system relies on sleep to stay strong and healthy. It is important that the immune system is healthy, because the system fights off diseases, bacteria, and other foreign substances that could potentially harm a person. Lastly, sleep deprivation can lead to decreased productivity, evoke negative emotions such as stress, and lower alertness and focus.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teens sleep eight to ten hours each night, and the NIH suggests methods that teens can use to help them get enough sleep every night. For instance, the NIH states that one can create set bed and wake up times. This allows for the body to adjust to falling asleep and waking up at set times, allowing one to sleep only when they need to. This also ties in with having a schedule that allows one to get enough sleep. For example, if a teen’s abundance of school work and extracurricular activities is causing them to lose sleep, that teen could talk to their school counselor and consider dropping a class or an activity to allow for more time to sleep. The NIH also recommends keeping bedrooms quiet, cool, and dark, to make it easier to fall and stay asleep. Lastly, the NIH advises against using bright artificial lights too close to bedtime. Bright artificial lights include lights from computers, televisions, and of course, smart phones. To elaborate, being exposed to bright artificial lights before bedtime can interfere with sleep, since the artificial light can trick the brain into thinking that it is daytime, and in turn, signal the body to stay awake.

Sleep deprivation can have serious consequences. It is essential that sufficient sleep is a priority, especially for teenagers. Sleep is vital for a healthy, happy, and productive life, and there are many available strategies to ensure a good night’s sleep (besides waiting for that extra hour that comes around but once a year).

Recent Posts
bottom of page