Sleep deprivation–and its effects, particularly on teens–has become a crucial area of research in the medical field. Sleep deprivation is the condition of not having enough sleep, which can be either acute or chronic. The majority of high school students are, to varying extents, affected by sleep deprivation.
On average, teens need about nine hours of sleep a night to best function, a fact that has been confirmed in studies conducted by the Mayo Clinic. While sleep deprivation may not seem like a big deal, in reality it can be quite detrimental. Sleep deprivation can lead to difficulty concentrating, learning, and staying awake in class. It can also be a contributing factor in behavioral problems. Studies have drawn direct connections between sleep deprivation and lower grades, moodiness, and depression. The consequences for driving while drowsy can be serious, especially with teen drivers. A 2004 study showed that from infancy to fifth grade the majority of students failed to get even the lowest recommended range of sleep. Another study referenced in the New York Times showed that the average eighth grader sleeps less than eight hours a night, and over a quarter of high school and college students are chronically sleep deprived. Researchers from Columbia University School of Nursing estimate that 15 million children in America are suffering from sleep deprivation.
In a survey of roughly 200 hundred students in the Upper School At Friends Academy, 89% of students reported that they get, on average, less than 8 hours of sleep a night. Shockingly, 27% of the students admitted to getting under 6 hours of sleep. Though parents and even researchers often assume that students spend a lot of time procrastinating their homework, this idea fails to correlate with the data at Friends. Only 3% of students admitted to spending more than two hours on social media a night. The majority of students spend less than an hour on social media per evening. A possible contributing factor to our national sleep deprivation crisis could be the following: 24% of Friends students reported spending more than four hours on homework a night. A striking 50% admitted to spending three to four hours a night on homework. And 85% of students reported that commitment to after school activities limits their time to get work done.
Clearly, sleep deprivation is a problem in our community, and it needs to be addressed.