Sleep deprivation can have overwhelmingly negative effects on both adults and teenagers alike. However, its effects are much more prominent on teens. In fact, a 2010 study of 392 boys and girls published online in the Journal of Psychiatric Research found that those who had trouble sleeping at 12 to 14 years old, were more than two times as likely to have suicidal thoughts at ages 15 to 17, as those who didn’t have sleep problems at the younger age apa.org claims. Many scientists and researchers claim that it’s actually a school’s early starting schedule that ruins sleep patterns. A full night’s rest can mean the difference between a life of health and happiness, or a life of stress and struggle.
It’s obvious that not sleeping can have short-term effects on our mind and body. As helpguide.org states, when you’re scrambling to meet the demands of modern life, cutting back on sleep can seem like the only answer. How else are you going to get through your never ending to-do list or make time for a little fun? What people don’t realize is this behavior can have long-term effects on your health. A lot of us try to sleep in whenever possible; sadly, it doesn’t work that way. Many of us try to repay our sleep debt by sleeping in on the weekends. But as it turns out, bouncing back from chronic lack of sleep isn’t that easy. One or two solid nights of sleep aren’t enough to pay off a long-term debt, according to helpguide.org. To put it another way, all those hours of nighttime work and activities are not worth consequences like low motor skills, depression, etc. Put down the work and get some rest. You can always continue the next day. If nothing ever gets completed, your time management skills might need some improvement also.
But when schools disturb our sleep with early bell schedules, this becomes more than a curfew issue. Cornell University psychologist James B. Maas, PhD, one of the nation’s leading sleep experts says that almost all teenagers, as they reach puberty, become walking zombies because they are getting far too little sleep. What this really means is even teens that manage their time properly are still tired in the morning. Lack of sleep can severely hurt academic and overall life performance. If schools would listen to the research and move schedules up an hour, student health should improve as well. Ronald E. Dahl, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley and a leading researcher on pediatric sleep states that healthy, optimal sleep may be a buffer against developing anxiety and depression in kids. This backs up the reason why there’s an increase in teen depression. Schools can still maximize curriculum if they would let teenagers get the sleep they need.
Some schools are indeed listening to the research and are offering extra hours of sleep for students. But the entire education department needs to acknowledge these studies. We are in the 21st century, and education needs reformed in various ways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, for example, drowsiness and fatigue causes more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year – and young drivers are at the wheel in more than half of these crashes.