Sleep: Too Much or Too Little

Sleep: Too Much or Too Little

Lilian Chong, Staff Writer

As you may know from experience, our bodies can’t get more or less sleep. If I were to randomly survey ten teenagers from different age groups, asking “Have you ever been sleep-deprived?” all ten of them would answer, “Yes.” We all understand from the logic of sleep deprivation that there are varying reasons that could cause a teen to lack rest. But foremost, we should start with some side effects and negative outcomes of lacking the right amount of sleep. 

Sleep deprivation is the most common but severe condition that many high school students tend to face almost on a daily basis. Transitioning into her last semester of high school, senior Marina Puffer suggests how her academic rigors and practices for guard stress her sleep schedule, “There are many major factors that keep me sleep-deprived. For example, extra-curricular and academic classes often keep me busy for the semester. College apps also take up an excessive amount of time, especially during senior year. It also contributes to why I have been getting as low as 4 hours of sleep during weekdays.” Similarly, freshman Doris Dai also experiences sleep problems, “The main reason I am sleep deprived is that I typically have practices that end pretty late and I also procrastinate a lot.”

Moreover, studies are showing why students are lacking valuable sleep. To be honest, I am one of the many students who miss out on precious sleep because staying up at night socializing with others and accessing my phone is what I mistakenly find myself doing. Moreover, I don’t tend to realize the poor side effects that sleep deprivation cause.

Researchers are coming out with similar outcomes that all relate to the side effects of sleep deprivation. Dr. Jonathan Plecther, an adolescent medicine specialist at the Children’s Hospital of Pittsburgh suggests some concerning effects that he notices in his patients, “A lack of sleep can increase depression, negative physical health like headaches, poor school performance, school absenteeism, and drowsy driving.” 

Doris relates, “Sometimes I tend to get 3-4 hours of sleep and when I get to school, I am so exhausted that I don’t feel like talking to anyone.” And thus, sleep deprivation leads to long hours of sleep during preferably weekend nights. After a long week, Friday night approaches and most high school students believe that they can finally replace their lost sleep. Unfortunately, our bodies do not sleep for a tremendously long time. From my experience, the longest I have slept was for ten hours. Some could possibly sleep for another hour or two but nothing more. 

For the few who prioritize sleep as Marina does, it makes school work so much easier to accomplish. In her case, she shares some of her experiences of trying to avoid exhaustion with the add-on of homework and color guard, “I tend to prioritize sleep over staying up excessively late to do work, but on days that I don’t get much sleep, late rehearsals into early call times for guard or schoolwork are the primary reasons. On days that I am sleep deprived, I am generally sluggish and I tend to get headaches and can’t get much done in the day which is why I manage my sleep schedule.”

Hence, how can you balance the right amount of sleep? Just remember to not sleep too little or too much because it can affect your overall mental state and your metabolic health. Mr. Franz, a P.E. and health instructor at AHS, shares some of his suggestions and tips on adjusting to the perfect sleep schedule. He says, “I suggest that you refrain from using any electronics close to the time you go to sleep. Your brain needs to settle down. You should try to go to bed at a consistent time every night, even on the weekends. Some other lifestyle tips that can help make you fall asleep is to not consume foods that are high in sugar at night, exercise to help tire you out, and set your room to a cooler temperature; most researchers suggest 60-68°F degrees, make sure your room is sufficiently dark and play calming sounds at a low volume to help you fall asleep.”

If you are trying to find another effective way to avoid sleep problems, try using sleep trackers. SnoreLab is one of the many popular and innovative apps that will allow you to log and track lifestyle factors and keep you on schedule for your next sleep!

Most importantly, don’t stress too much about your sleep schedule. Getting off-track once in a while won’t hurt too much, but what will hurt is your carelessness in unbalancing your sleep plan. So make sure to get lots of rest because, in the long-run, you can achieve many things without feeling burdensome and fatigued.