Sleep Deprivation

This is an essay I had to write for my parents. I find the subject to be quite interesting; I had no idea it was such a big issue and I felt like I should raise some awareness. Not my best work, but informative nontheless.

Sleep deprivation is an often overlooked issue that affects teenagers across the nation. It has been shown that the average teenager needs approximately nine hours and fifteen minutes of sleep a night, more than any other age group. Lack of sleep can lead to ADHD like symptoms, vision problems, depression, decreased activity, decreased immune system, memory loss, and several other mental/health problems. Mood is seriously affected as well as performance, creating problems at school. Grades and sleep are directly related according to the latest studies.
A study published in the British Scientific Journal in 2000 reported that being deprived of sleep can have the same effects of that of being intoxicated. The subjects who drove after being awake for about 18 hours performed worse than those with a blood alcohol content of .05%, the legal limit in most western European countries. This shows that judgment, concentration, and mood are severely impaired when the body and mind do not get enough rest, which can harm a child’s grades at school.
Here in the United States, sleep deprivation is a common occurrence because of the early school times set, forcing the students to have to sacrifice sleep to get up early in the morning and attend class. The effects of sleep deprivation in adolescents are even more dramatic than adults because adolescents are biologically driven to sleep longer and later than adults. The country’s early school start times are borderline abuse. Discipline problems are known to occur as well as dropping grades, and students find they are unable to concentrate on anything but sleep. Cornell University psychologist James B. Maas, PhD, one of the nation's leading sleep experts, finds it unnecessary to educate children so early in the morning and right after lunch while they are the most fatigued. A 1998 study lead by psychologists Amy R. Wolfson, PhD, of the College of the Holy Cross, and Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, of Brown University Medical School, found that students who go to bed forty minutes later and ended up with twenty-five minutes less of sleep receive more failing grades than those who had gotten the extra sleep. Another study from 1998 found that twenty-six percent of high school students only sleep an average of six point five hours on school nights and only fifteen percent slept eight point five hours on a school night.
"Most students have experienced what I call the 'procrastination factor,' where they must stay up late or all night to finish a paper or study for a test," Stephanie Fugal, a part-time faculty member in the BYU Department of Health Sciences said. "Though this seems harmless, it is not. When you are young, sleep deprivation doesn't seem to affect your health. However, research has shown that chronic sleep deprivation will adversely affect your physical and mental health."
Sleep deprivation is obviously a very serious issue faced by society’s students and needs to be brought to light. Teenagers across the nation are depriving their bodies of sleep, therefore ruining their health and their performance at school. Grades are suffering greatly and adolescents are becoming more and more irritable, uncontrollable, and sickly.

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Posted on April 18th, 2007 at 11:10am


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