High school students’ schedules are not for the weak. From trying to maintain a 4.0 GPA, playing sports, participating in clubs and trying to maintain a social life, it can be tough. Something a lot of students do not take into account is how much sleep they really need.
It is a well-known fact that a lack of sleep reduces cognitive abilities and can harm academic performance in teens. Most research about sleep deprivation has been conducted in adults, but many of the same effects are believed to occur in younger people. Although there have not been as many studies examining lack of sleep in children, the existing evidence indicates that poor sleep can harm academic achievement in several ways. A direct way that sleep and school performance are connected is through mental function. Lack of sleep can cause decreased attention and impaired memory. The ability to concentrate is vital to learning and academic achievement, but insufficient sleep reduces attention and focus. Sleep provides a time for memory encoding which is when the brain stores and strengthens the recollection of an image or thought. Without adequate sleep, memories may not be properly formed, and it may also be more difficult to accurately recall stored information. Not getting enough sleep can also create a slower processing time and hinder the ability to quickly take in and analyze information. Unfortunately, these skills are crucial for students to be able to demonstrate to be able to learn to the best of their ability.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep has physical and mental health benefits. Throughout the night, a person’s heart rate, breathing rate and blood pressure rise and fall, an important process for cardiovascular health. The body releases hormones during sleep that help repair cells and control the body’s use of energy. These hormone changes can also affect body weight. Most people have experienced how lack of sleep can affect mood, causing irritability and emotional reactions. Over time, the consequences can be even greater for teens who are adapting to more independence, responsibilities and new social relationships. Prolonged sleep loss may negatively affect emotional development, increasing risks for interpersonal conflict as well as serious mental health problems. In fact, sleep-deprived teens are more likely to report anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts and behaviors. However, improving sleep in adolescents may play a role in preventing and managing these mental health conditions.
While a lot of teens think lack of sleep does not affect them, it will eventually catch up to them. Caffeine can only hold off needing sleep for so long. Some might even say students don’t need more sleep because they need to learn time management and prioritize their tasks. Plus, being a bit tired can lead to a stress effect that sometimes helps teens focus on getting things done instead of procrastinating. However, a good night’s sleep is important for learning and health.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is important for students to maintain focus in the classroom and to keep their mental and physical health at its peak. Don’t sacrifice your zzz’s, they are good for you!