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Sleep Schedules in Teenagers

Written by: Ava Garrido

Date: November 2020

My impression of a teenager in high school is someone who can get sidetracked. Imagine writing an email to a teacher on your phone, but then deciding to give yourself five minutes of break to go on Instagram. Minutes turn into hours, and suddenly it’s nine o’clock; you have an essay, two math worksheets, and a biology assignment due at 11:59.

And with this, you get a disrupted sleep schedule.

Disrupted sleep schedules imply sleep deprivation, which can be defined as failing to get enough sleep. As a high schooler, I know a lot of people my age with this problem, and I happen to be guilty of it myself. It can stem from losing track of time, not being consistent with when you sleep, and distractions such as social media. So, are you an exception to the stereotype above?

Whether you are or not, it’s good to learn about the importance of sleep, so let’s lay down some of the facts:

Teens actually need more sleep than children. The reasoning behind this is because adolescents go through a second developmental stage of cognitive maturing. Sleep itself is crucial to supporting the development of your brain, as well as physical growth during these times, as it protects you from depression and drug use. Lack of sleep can also cause the following: obstructive sleep apnea (intermittent airflow blockage during sleep), narcolepsy (a chronic sleep disorder causing drowsiness in the morning), emotional problems, and mental conditions. When you are going through puberty, your body naturally shifts your sleep schedule. Instead of getting tired at eight or nine o’clock, you would be tired around ten or eleven o’clock. This natural shift is called “sleep-phase” delay and is completely normal. Today, about 73% of teenagers do not get enough sleep, and a more specific study states that 60% of middle schoolers do not get enough sleep either.

It might feel like a long time since you have last had a good rest, so let’s take a moment to remind ourselves what having a healthy sleep schedule feels like. Being rested can lead to better moods, strengthen your immune system, help prevent weight gain, strengthen your heart, increase productivity, improve memory, and much more. Overall, someone with a good sleep schedule has the potential to be happier and more energized. Additionally, it can steer you away from things like depression, sleep apnea, mood changes, higher blood pressure, concentration, etc.

Do you already have a healthy system going on? Of course, there are things such as pills to take but I strongly advise that you do not take any medication without the consultation of a doctor. In fact, there is a multitude of things you can do to make your sleep schedule healthier without going straight to a doctor. For example, making minor schedules to your daily routines can help with this.

If you have the time to take a nap during the day, and if you feel tired, allow yourself to do so. Additionally, make sure that you are not overworking yourself! School can be a lot of work sometimes, so having over four extracurriculars can be exhausting (and time-consuming), leading to lack of sleep. If you are in a bunch of activities, remember to give yourself a break every once in a while or take a rest day, because sleep boosts your immune system so that you can do those activities!

Another way to maintain a healthier sleep schedule is to refrain from using any technology or devices before going to bed. This is especially crucial if you like to go on social media. Games and social media can be fun, and a nice way to wind down, but they are also very distracting. Thus, going on your phone or tablet before bed can lead to you staying up longer! Furthermore, a good way to maintain your healthy sleep schedule (given that you have good habits already), is to continue this schedule throughout breaks! Repetition and engraving good habits into your head can be essential to keeping good habits.

So, what are you going to do to make your sleep schedule healthier?