effect of sleep deprivation on teens - 3 teen boys on stairs, one sleeping

Lack of sufficient sleep has been a rampant problem among teens today. Researchers have shown that sleep problems puts them at great risk for emotional disturbance, school difficulties, accidents and psychopathology.

Presently, adolescents get only an average of seven hours of sleep. From an average of 10 hours a night during middle childhood, their hours of sleep decline to fewer than 7.5 hours by age 16.

Teens today are involved with more activities. They struggle with their academic loads and pressures, domestic affairs, relationships, social activities and engagements, part-time or sometimes even full-time jobs.

They also tend to watch television or surf the Internet until late in the night or until the wee hours of dawn. They also have various video and computer games which take up most of their times.

Teenagers generally require considerably more sleep than do younger children or adults. Starting around puberty to their early 20s, they need about 9.2 hours of sleep every night to perform optimally during the day. But this is not to be the case for the teens today.

With sleep deprivation, their safety is greatly jeopardized. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, more than half of the 1,000 traffic accidents are caused by young drivers who are either driving drowsy or fatigued.

Reports have shown that there are 100,000 police-reported crashes that are the direct result of drowsy driving or driver fatigue each year. This results in an estimated 1,550 deaths, 71,000 injuries and $12.5 billion in monetary losses.

It also appears that teens with insufficient sleep frequently have disciplinary problems and troubles understanding, concentrating and memorizing in class. According to a research, almost half of the students who begin school at 7:20 AM were found to be “pathologically sleepy” during the day, displaying similar patterns shown by patients with narcolepsy.

Another research revealed that students who have 25 minutes less sleep and go to bed 40 minutes later were mostly getting C’s, D’s and F’s. This only indicates that there is a direct connection between the number of hours that teenagers sleep and their performance at school.

Lack of sleep also affects adolescent’s emotions and behavior. Sleep-deprived teens are vulnerable to psychopathologies such as depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), and have difficulty controlling their emotions and impulses.

To address these escalating problems, researchers have now started to push for school changes and public outreach before teen’s sleeping behavior gets out of hand.