Getting ZZZ's Is Not So Easy This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


   Fordecades adults have speculated about the irrational tendencies of the obnoxious,disagreeable teenager. Some blame society and its lack of morals, others blametelevision, with its constant source of objectionable matter just waiting to betaken in by innocent 14-year-olds. No one would ever guess or believe that allthis time the source of the problem that has plagued teens would be what teensmost enjoy (and yet seldom enjoy) - sleep.

The subject of sleepdeprivation among teenagers has been discussed frequently in the media. The factis that teenagers do not get enough sleep, but not because they are rebelliousand defy the bedtimes set by their parents (only five percent of parents actuallyset sleep schedules for their teenage children on school nights). As young as theage 8, children's circadian rhythms change and their sleep patterns move to alater awareness of being tired and waking up. It becomes natural for the pre-teento be awake until 1 a.m. Almost everyone on the planet needs nine hours sleep, sowhen a high-school student stays up all hours of the night working, doinghomework, or just watching TV, and wake up at 6 a.m., they are not ready totackle school. They aren't even ready to tackle brushing their teeth. When aperson (teen or adult) constantly gets six hours of sleep, or less, they feellike someone who normally gets eight hours of sleep feels after staying up for 48hours straight.

School schedules do not help. Lucky for Texans, theaverage school schedule starts between 8 a.m. and 9 a.m. In other states(Minnesota and New York), students start school as early as 7:15 a.m. A study inMinneapolis showed that 87% of students said they needed more sleep. After thecity changed a number of school starting times from 7:15 to 8:40, 57% of theteachers said their students were more alert and cooperative.

Though itcannot be directly linked, studies have shown that sleep deprivation can causelower grades. This seems obvious when the side effects of a lack of sleep(irritability, annoyance, and bad judgment) are shown. Researchers have foundthat the state of a person who wakes up after a mere five hours of sleep issimilar to being in a state of drunkenness.

A big concern for most people(who are fully awake) is their safety and the safety of others. A lack of sleepincreases the likelihood of teens smoking or abusing drugs because those withoutsleep have horrible judgment. Teens also use caffeine or nicotine to stay awake,which very often causes addictions.

A more demonstrable safety hazardcaused by sleep deprivation are the inexperienced drivers who fall asleep at thewheel. A one-second delay in pressing the brake while going 60-miles-an-hour willsend a vehicle an extra 80 feet.

So why are people just beginning to findout about these sleep patterns? They never interfered with a teen's daily life enmasse until the 1960s. School in the late fifties and early sixties startedschool as late as 9 a.m.!

Many researchers and child psychologistshave said that the modern teen is much more involved in activities outside ofschool. A high school student has tons of opportunities to join clubs and play asport or two (or three). The work and activities pile higher and higher, leavingless time for rest.

Obviously it would please many to solve this problemby starting school at 9 or 9:30, but a better solution would be for parents totake more interest in their child's life by setting a curfew and making suretheir child is not too heavily packed with extra-curricular activities. Ninehours of sleep may seem long to some, but 20 hours of being awake seems muchlonger.




This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.






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This article has 2 comments. Post your own now!

snowys_momma said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 11:47 am

i agree with everything you stated. getting sleep is very difficult for a teen tp get. for example some teens go to school as early as 7:15 therefore requiring them to get up at around 5:30 or 6:00. then after school some teens have to go to work and probably dont get out till after 10:00. and then go home and start on there homework from there 6 or 7 classes, and probably dont get done till after 12:00. and thus only getting a 5 hour sleep.

i love your article!&nbs... (more »)

 
*Elle* said...
Oct. 28, 2010 at 8:22 am
I love your article...It has soooo many good points. Each and everything is right. Sleep is NOT at all easy to get when you are a teen. Great job!
 
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