Sleep deficit a serious problem for teens

And no an all-nighter won’t fix it.

Teens have sleeping problem. Those problems stem from many things: night owl syndrome, insomnia, periodic limb movement disorder, restless leg syndrome, obstructive sleep apnea, gastroesophageal reflux disease (GERD), stress, drug use, narcolepsy, or sleep walking. Whatever the reason, sleep deprivation has serious consequences on school life as it affects productivity, concentration and can create or amplify serious emotional issues such as depression and anxiety.

It is already bad that the less productive people in my class (and here I’m speaking of myself first and foremost) stay up late to either binge watch a show, play games or, more responsibly, do the assignments they couldn’t complete earlier in the day, but it turns into more of a cycle than a habit as the more sleep they miss, the less productive they become. Thus it repeats, getting more severe until deadlines get missed and grades suffer.

Night owl syndrome is one factor that I have a tiny bit of experience with. I can’t think about anything but sleeping during the day but at night I feel like the most productive person on the planet. I play games, editing and watch videos, or tackle my 6-foot pile of neglected homework. When my parents ask me why I’m was up at the eleventh hour, I simply reply, “I’m gonna have to drag myself through the day anyway, I might as well get something done.” But during the weekends, when I don’t have things to do, I’m “out like a light,” says my grandmother.

And I’m not alone. I found out that out of 24 students in my English class, 16 (including myself) suffer from insomnia according to the results of an online quiz created by the London Sleep Centre. This is kind of worrisome, to say the least.

But what can be done about it? Some sleep meds disrupt the sleep cycle and do more harm than good. Meanwhile, some parents are reluctant to medicate their kids with sleep aids. So what can be a natural way to fix this? Many websites attempt to sell “cures” but one non-commerical strategy is simply to establish a healthier lifestyle. Trying, at least, to stick to a consistent sleep schedule can help, as can doing vigorous exercise in the morning and afternoon, getting lots of sunlight during the day, and doing relaxing activities at night such as yoga, or taking a warm bath.
While some suggest things like changing school hours to better fit teenagers natural circadian rhythm, getting students to change their own habits might be the healthiest approach overall.

Image: Flickr / Easy Rhino

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