Ruining Our Internal Clocks

by ALEX JOHNSTONE

Staff Writer

Sleep deprivation is common among teenagers. It can be caused by activities such as staying up late, working on homework or watching television and facebook. There have been surveys that show more than 90% of teenagers get less than the recommended amount of sleep per night. On average teenagers get seven hours of sleep a night as 85% are chronically sleep deprived.

When learning how to balance activities, it is important not to forgo sleep. It is important that teenagers receive more than nine hours of sleep a night. This is rare for teenagers to receive except on weekends, however many teens like to “catch-up” on sleep on the weekends by sleeping in. This does more harm than good because it disrupts the internal body clock. It is normal during the teenage years to have a body clock that prefers late nights and sleeping in. This is mainly caused by the production of hormones specifically the release of melatonin which tells the body to turn off forms of alertness. These hormones, along with activities such as sports practices and homework, cause teens to stay up later reducing sleeping time. Research suggests that schools with later start times have students that receive higher grades and appear more focused. This is because students are experiencing an adequate amount of sleep,arriving awake and prepared to learn. Research also supports that studying right before falling asleep promotes a higher chance of remembering the material.

Sleep assists in becoming prepared for all daily activities. Information recommends that obtaining the needed amount of sleep each night assists with memory and even weight loss. Not receiving enough sleep may lead to aggressive or inappropriate behaviors, bad complexion and contribute to illness. Driving while sleep deprived results in endless amounts of crashes a year. Sleep deprivation promotes lower grades than those who get adequate sleep per night because the necessity of sleep can override the ability to remember and comprehend.

Methods to avoid sleep deprivation include going to bed earlier, listening to music (but not too loudly) and turning off your cell phone. Avoid exercising or eating sugary or caffeinated items before attempting to sleep. To create optimum sleeping conditions, take all electronics out of your room and keep you room dark, cool and quiet. More extreme measures incorporate scheduling earlier dinners, removing all clutter from room and painting walls with calming colors. While waking up in the morning it is important to get into bright light as soon as possible, such as turning on an overhead light or opening the binds to let the sunshine in.

A lack of sleep can also be caused by sleeping disorders such as sleep apnea: the relaxation of throat muscles during sleep causing the air that moves freely through the nose and windpipe. Restless leg syndrome is a neurological disorder that reveals itself by expressing throbbing, pulling, creeping or other unpleasant sensations in the legs. Depression also hinders the ability to sleep. It is crucial to make sleep a priority in your schedule and to get a sufficient amount of sleep every night.

If you believe you have a sleeping disorder or are curious about sleep disorders speak to a physician or visit the American Sleep Association website at http://www.sleepassociation.org.

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