The Negative Impacts of Our Sleeping Habits


Anna Odell, Staff Writer

Many people, especially high school students, go to bed later than they should. Statistics show that high schoolers tend to go to bed between 11 p.m. and 1 a.m. and generally get up around the same time–6 a.m. Seeing as how teenagers need at least eight or nine hours of sleep and how having poor sleeping habits can be detrimental to our mental and physical health, it’s extremely important to be aware of these effects and fix this destructive habit. 

Due to hormonal changes, “the teenager’s body clocks forward by about one or two hours, making them sleepier one to two hours later,” said Better Health Channel. 

Growing up, kids don’t have control over the changes that occur in their bodies, so they are unaware that they feel tired later in the evening. This can’t necessarily be recognized as it doesn’t feel like anything is different. What’s inconvenient about this is that, often due to schoolwork, teens aren’t allowed to sleep in to allow their body to get the rest it needs. 

Unfortunately, hormones aren’t the only thing contributing to sleep deprivation. Screen based devices such as phones and computers distract people from their need for sleep, leading them to sleeping at a later time. 

“Teens who put their smart-phones down an hour before bed gain an extra 21 minutes of sleep at night,” Better Health Channel said.

Other things that can cause a lack of sleep include after school activities such as homework, part-time jobs, sports, and light exposure from computers or electronics.

If there were no repercussions of getting less sleep, there would be no problem with going to bed at a later time. However, there are a myriad of harmful consequences that are a direct result of sleep deprivation.

The brutal reality is that, sleep deprivation can cause “an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and even suicide attempts,” said Stanford Medicine.

Better Health Channel also stated that not sleeping enough has the potential to affect a teen’s performance in school. It can lead to concentration difficulties, a shortened attention span, and slower reflexes. 

Inconsistent and bad sleeping habits affect everyone though, not only teenagers and in general poor sleeping habits can seriously harm a person’s mental health as well. Mental health issues are commonly linked to sleep habits. 

“Approximately 50% of insomnia cases are related to depression, anxiety or psychological stress,” the National Alliance on Mental Illness said. 

For those who have mental disorders, a lack of sleep can increase the likelihood of trigger mania, which is commonly seen in bipolar disorder, and psychotic episodes that can include hallucinations. It has also been linked to the increase in suicide rates, irritability, and stress.

Overall, it has been proven that if a person is constantly getting very little sleep, people can experience a wide variety of mental issues. 

It has also been proven that by not getting enough sleep, a person’s immune system will be weakened since many of its functions occur while a person is asleep. It can also affect weight and digestive aspects since sleeping is related to the levels of two very important hormones that control appetite. 

On the extreme side, “Some of the most serious potential problems associated with chronic sleep deprivation are high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attack, heart failure or stroke,” Cleveland Clinic said.

Since research shows taking sleep seriously is important for our mental and physical health and as individuals, we need to address the problem at hand. So why is it that, although the public is given this shocking information, people, especially teenagers, continue to ignore what their body needs? If we are more aware of the effects shouldn’t we take the initiative to do what will benefit our minds and bodies? 

Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. People continue to prioritize other needs other than sleep such as: late work hours, school starting times, exercise, studying, etc. Some people might view sleep as something that prevents them from completing things and getting tasks done. Sometimes there just isn’t the motivation, desire, or the willingness to sleep more and fix one’s sleeping habits. 

On a good note, there are many ways to fix a poor sleep schedule. As long as a person doesn’t have a sleeping condition, some advice given to people is “avoid caffeine,” “don’t nap later than 3 p.m.” “avoid being on a smart-phone around bedtime” and “going to bed at approximately the same time every day and waking up at the same time every day.” 

Getting enough sleep is one of the most important things for a person’s body. Lack of sleep contributes to numerous problems ranging from mental health issues to internal organ functions. We need to be more aware and take advantage of the resources and advice that scientific research has given us, so that as a society we can stay healthy. 


Graphic courtesy of PIXABAY.COM