The Effects of Sleep Deprivation in High School Students

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Sleep is one of the most overlooked necessities we have. We stay up late with colleagues or labor over unfinished work without a second thought to the amount of sleep we might be losing. High School students develop in fast paced and demanding environments that require the best they can offer. Often at the cost of their own personal time. Unbeknownst to us, irregular sleep patterns affect both our physical and mental health almost immediately, more so on the developing bodies of adolescents.

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Sleep is often considered period of time in which the body is able to relax. This, in fact, is not the case. Sleep is the optimal time for your body to process needed information, retain memories, synthesise hormones, and to grow or repair needed tissues among other important functions.Therefore, we can conclude that sleep is a vital function of the growing body of a young adult for it to be able to perform at optimal condition in society as well as academically. Healthy sleeping patterns are characterized by sufficient duration ”in relation to age” and regularity (How Much Sleep. 2018). Loss of sleep cannot be replenished by oversleeping.

Young children ages six through thirteen are recommended to sleep nine through eleven hours each night. Parents are usually have a higher influence on their children during these ages; therefore kids often receive the needed amount to support their rapid mental and physical development. As they grow into adolescence, ages fourteen through eighteen, parental control decreases (How Much Sleep, 2018). Teenagers begin to learn how to care for themselves without the proper information to fully understand what their developing bodies require to achieve ideal performance. More often than not they will neglect the needed eight to ten hours of sleep and later the signs of fatigue.

Sleep deprivation is a common occurance and can be caused by many factors in high school students. The balance of an active schedule and a healthy sleeping schedule is a delicate matter most often forgotten in societies (such as western) that prioritize productivity. At times, sleep deprivation can be the result of the environment in which the student is residing in. Environmental factors are oftentimes have a easier path to resolve them. This includes, but is not limited to, extensive time with screen based devices, hectic schedules, light exposure, and conditioned arousal around sleep areas. Excluding environment, the body itself can also be the cause for a lack of sleep. Biological factors can are most often harder to remedy and require extensive periods of treatment. Some examples of biological factors of sleep deprivation are: hormonal time shifts, a pre-developed sleep or psychiatric disorder, conditions associated with respiration/chronic pain and some medication.

Immediate effects of sleep deprivation in young adults can include: impulsive behavior, memory and cognitive impairment , daytime fatigue, irritability, and anxiety. The American National Sleep Foundation found that by the 12th grade, 75% of students reported sleep durations of less than eight hours per night. Poor physical and academic performance ”as well as drowsiness behind the wheel ”have been attributed to inadequate sleep. Irritability and impulsive behavior can lead to stressed professional and personal relationships as well as stunted social development. As these young adults are becoming active in their community, the effect of sleep deprivation is directly influencing their lives (Owens, J. 2014).

While short term sleep deprivation is limited from a few days to a couple of weeks, long term deprivation can span from several weeks to months. The impacts made from long term deprivation can have a larger impact to a teenagers health. Lower libido, psychiatric issues, weight fluctuation, increase of cortisol, and decrease in your immune systems functionality, are common symptoms found in long term cases. Although the consequences of sleep deprivation can prove to be a harsh blow to the body, they can be reversed over time.

Our fascination with the human body and its functions have expanded far and wide, sleep holds no exception.There are thousands of studies concerning sleep, going as far back as ancient egyptian times with the mention of sleep disorders. In recent studies, led by Dr. Itzhak Fried, was one of the first to reveal that a lack of sleep disrupts the ability of brain cells to communicate with each other. In this study, Fried used a group of twelve individuals who already had electrodes implanted in their brain to detect seizures. As sleep is a viable factor in the cause of seizures, these patients were forced to stay awake for several hours at a time. Accumutavly ”between all patients” the electrodes fired 15,000 brain cells. In comparison, as they grew weary the amount of brain cells stimulated decreased. Dr. Itzhak was astounded in his finding, “”Unlike the usual rapid reaction, the neurons responded slowly, fired more weakly and their transmissions dragged on longer than usual. We were fascinated to observe how sleep deprivation dampened brain cell activity”” (Schmidt, E. 2017) .

Treatment has proven to be effective in resolving the issues caused by sleep deprivation. In the case of environmental factors, most treatment involves a change in daily routine. Avoiding digital screens, stimulants such as caffeine and soft drinks, developing a comfortable sleeping environment, and creating a realistic and sustainable sleep schedule have all proven to help with the adjustment of the body. Biologically caused factors should be diagnosed and recommended treatment from a trusted physician. Some common treatments are sleep clinics, medication to induce sleep, and complementary medication.

Sleep deprivation is a common and overlooked condition especially found in highschool students. This can be caused by a multitude of environmental or biological factors such as irregular hormone levels or numerous stimulants too close to a time scheduled for sleep. Although entirely curable, this disorder can have mild to extreme symptoms ranging from daytime fatigue to strokes. Symptoms can lead to external problems, as sleep deprivation has been proven to cause poor academic and physical performance.

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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation in High School Students. (2019, Aug 08). Retrieved February 1, 2023 , from

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