Don’t you just hate it when you’re in the middle of teaching your class to look over and see about half of your students’ heads down, drooling away during precious learning time? As a student I’ve wondered what goes on in students’ minds that barely receive sleep.
Sleep deprivation is a common problem for teenage students ranging from the ages of 13 to 19. Sleep deprivation is defined as a general lack of the necessary amount of sleep that a person needs. An average teen needs approximately 8 to 9 hours of sleep each night for the best academic and physical performance during school hours. Studies show that teens on and average are getting between 6.5 and 7.3 hours of sleep. Teenage students that choose to stay up late on school nights are usually the ones who end up falling asleep in class, and the result is missing an important lesson of the day. This is just one example of the problems a sleep-deprived student could face. This leads to my thesis that sleep deprivation is a serious problem in the teen-aged world, in terms of schools. Behavior problems, Understanding, memory, cognition (the process of thought), motor functions, Alertness are effects sleep deprived teens may undergo.
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The affects of sleep deprivation on a teenage body can affect the ability to function at school. Studies showed that “Sleep deprivation can affect mood/behavior, learning, performance (physically), attention (being focused), and cause health issues.”(Teens, Sleep and School).Too little sleep may cause exhaustion or fatigue (an overall feeling of deep tiredness or lack of energy) which can lead deprived student to have mood swings and behavioral problems, such as crying for no reason or losing their temper over small things.
It is necessary for teens to get enough sleep on a daily bases in order to function properly during school. Students have to process information given to them by an instructor in order to learn. Lack of sleep may cause a teen’s mind to be distracted and not focused, causing their grades to decline. According to Dr.Carskadon, a sleep researcher at Brown University “Teens with A’s on their report cards received an hour of more sleep each night and students who had D’s and F’s on their report cards only had two hours less sleep then the students with A’s.”(The Importance of Sleep for Teens Essay | Student Essays Summary). It is very important to get enough sleep in order for a student to be successful academically and perform in class to the best of their ability.
A sleepy person’s brain works harder but accomplishes less. Sleep can be characterized as “food for the brain”. According to Jim Horne, PhD, director of the sleep research laboratory at Loughborough University in England, “the part of the brain that overworks in the sleep-deprived people normally is one of the most active areas of the brain” (Horne). Complex functions involved, verbal fluency, planning, paying attention, dealing with situations such as, group participations, activities, fights and group discussions. Jim Horne also includes, “what seems to be happening is that the functional part of the brain appears to be working even harder during compensation because performance shows deterioration” (Horne) a sleep-deprived person cannot perform physical and mental tasks as well as a person who is well rested. (Lack of Sleep Takes Toll on Brain Power)
James B. Maas is a Professor in Psychology, Education and Communication at Cornell University. Dr. Maas is also one of the nations most sought after corporate speakers. He received his B.A. (Bachelor of Arts) from Williams College and his M.A. (Master of Arts) and Ph.D. from Weill Cornell Medical College. Dr. Maas researches on sleep and performance, as well as on leadership and critical thinking. (Maas) “What good does it do to try to educate teen-agers so early in the morning?” Dr. Maas asks. “You can be giving the most stimulating, interesting lectures to sleep-deprived kids early in the morning or right after lunch, when they’re at their sleepiest, and the overwhelming drive to sleep replaces any chance of alertness, cognition, memory or understanding.”(Maas)
Dr. Maas supports later start times at school. According to Maas, “teenagers face significant challenges in maintaining healthy sleep routines.”(Maas) Dr. Maas took matters in to his own hands, He went out and spoke to school regarding how students can perform better if school start times started later in the morning. Deerfield Academy was one of the schools that Dr. Maas spoke at, a preparatory boarding school in Massachusetts which loved his idea of pushing school’s start time back. In Sept. 2007, the school administration began to consider his idea of changing the school schedule. In Oct. 2007, the school voted to decide if it was reasonable. 61 to 27 voted in favor of the plan. The old start time of school 7:55 a.m. was now moved to 8:30 a.m. Mr. Warsaw a teacher who taught at Deerfield Academy stated that, “Students of first-period classes are more vibrant and discussions now began at the opening bell instead of half-way through the class,(Warsaw)”.Deerfield Academy decided to maintain the later start schedule. Delaying school start times is one solution for solving the problem for students who are unable to stay steadily awake in class due to sleep deprivation. (Sleep deprivation-Undermining Teen Health) Sleep deprivation can also affect you out of school.
Sleep deprivation can have the same affect behind the wheel as drunk driving. By the time teens reach high school, most would be already driving during the junior and senior year. REM sleep plays roles linked to being drunk which leads to car accidents. Researchers in Australia and New Zealand found that people who drive after being awake
for 17 to 19 hours performed worse than those with a (B.A.L.) blood alcohol level of 0.05 percent. There studies also show that 16 to 60 percent of road accidents involve sleep deprivation. In a survey taken by teens reported that more than half has operated a car drowsy. According to the National Highway Safety Traffic Administration more than 100,000 accidents, 40,000 injuries, and 1,500 people are killed in the U.S. every year due to crashes by drivers who are sleepy. A sleep-deprived teen can be characterized as drunken teen, results can also be fatal when driving drowsy. (Sleep deprivation as bad as alcohol impairment). In 2009 Braeshaun Jackson, 19, graduate from Laguna Creek High School was involved in a fatal car incident .He died in a wreck at the intersection of Whitlock Parkway and Shana Way due to driving sleepy.(Ruffin)
According to M. Suzanne Stevens, MD (medical Doctor), Assistant Clinical Professor, from the University of Kansas, “Sleep is controlled by neurotransmitters, which act on different neurons in the brain. Some, such as serotonin and norephine which keep the brain active while were awake. Adenosine (plays a role in promoting sleep) builds up in our blood while we are awake and breakdown of it causes drowsiness” (Stevens). She also includes that there are five stages of sleep and REM (Rapid Eye Movement). “During stages 1-4 of sleep, our brain waves become slower and slower until we switch to REM sleep. At that point, our breathing is more rapid and irregular and our eyes move rapidly under our eyelids” (Stevens).REM sleep occurs when we are at a stage of being close to falling asleep, it can be characterized as skeletal muscle twitches or a feeling of low-voltage signals. Before you enter REM sleep a feeling of drowsiness occurs. Two characteristics that may be noticeable when REM sleep is taking place are the dilation of pupils and an increase respiratory rate.
Sleep deprivation can also negatively impact physiology that is critical for athletic performance. Athletes can suffer from the loss of sleep/sleep deprivation. Impairments include athlete’s motor functions, and the inability to control all aspects of muscular movement fully. Examples include races such as sprints, as well as hurdles, which depend on a combination of power and striding over hurdles, or sports where the athletes must coordinate movements rapidly such as ball-sports. Another impairment that an athlete can be affected by is one’s visual reaction time. Sports is mainly about reaction time and how one reacts to an object such as in the sport of baseball, where the batter has to be able to hit a 80-95 mph ball with success or in hockey where the goaltender has to be able to stop the fast moving puck from getting in the goal.
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Sleep deprivation also causes delays in an athlete’s auditory reaction, such as the reaction to a start of a pistol. Auditory reaction is how fast a person can respond by hearing or in sports were teammates are alerted by loud commands, an example would be the loud pistol to signal the start of a race with no delay in reaction time or when a conversation is going on were one out of the 3 person is slowest to respond.
Glucose is compared as fuel for our body; it is the primary source of energy for the brain and also influences psychological processes. It is estimated that glucose metabolism will deteriorate in a period of seven to 10 days of limited sleep by as much as 30% to 40%. This condition will impair the ability of the body to properly store the glycogen necessary to provide the body with reserves to use during intense training or competition. (Sleep Deprivation and Sports Performance)
Eve Van Cauter, Ph.D. from the University of Chicago Medical School, studied the effects of three different durations of sleep in 12 young men ages 17 to 22. “For the first three nights of the study, the men slept eight hours per night; for the next six nights, they slept four hours per night; for the last seven nights, they slept 12 hours per night. Results showed that after four hours of sleep per night (the sleep deprivation period), they metabolized glucose least efficiently. Levels of cortisol (a stress hormone) were also higher during sleep deprivation periods, which have been linked to memory impairment, age-related insulin resistance, and impaired recovery in athletes.”(Cauter)
Eve Van Cauter also said that, “after only one week of sleep restriction, young, healthy males had glucose levels that were no longer normal and showed a rapid deterioration of the body’s functions.” (Cauter) This can reduce the body to have the ability to store glucose properly. His results showed that these young healthy males had glucose similar to those found in the elderly.
The strongest opposing argument for sleep deprivation is that students should sleep less if it’s necessary to get more urgent things done such as an important assignment(s) due the next day or being that a final exam/test is going to be given. Stephanie, a high school graduate (2007) was asked, “Should I stay up late studying and doing homework or rest?”(Yahoo! Answers) on an online website. Questions were asked randomly by an unknown person(s) and opinions were given. Stephanie’s opinion was that he/she should stay up late, according to Stephanie “you learn more before you sleep” (Stephanie), she also includes that “that was my technique” (Stephanie). What she is saying is that, you can always get your sleep back but cannot re-do a failed exam/test/assignment because you decided to go to sleep a little early so the next day you wouldn’t arrive to class sleepy. However without the proper amount of sleep trying to study or get work done is not a good idea, eventually you’ll fall asleep during class. This leaves you unprepared to do what is presented and take an F for the day. Sleeping in late will mentally impact you the next morning leaving you, drowsy, constantly yawing, and distracted because eventually you’ll try to think of ways to stay awake in class. The best suggestion is to study/do home work when your suppose to like student should and not just the night before.
The second opposing argument is that some find it easier to sleep later at night and still would not be affected by the loss of sleep. According to a college student “I’ve always been a night owl.”(student) A night owl is characterized as a person who says up late a night like an owl dose. She found it easier not to go to bed at all some nights than to get up early in the morning for class or work. She also includes that “It was always easier to stay up late to finish (or start) my work than it was to get up early.”(student) However staying up to late will take affect on your body when you least expect it, because your body needs to rest and rebuild for the next day.
The third opposing argument is that since school starts early in the morning when students cannot mentally focus on studying, studying at night when drowsiness and missing sleep can be eliminated since the student is already mentally up. This gives them a better chance of being able to remember what was being studied the next day. However trying to cram all kinds of information in your brain in one night is not worth it because the next morning you’ll just forget. Trying to over work your body will make it even more tired the next day. With that being said students should get the regular amount of sleep each night so the next they’ll have less of a hassle of dealing with miscommunications.
Sleep deprivation is a serious problem in the teen-aged world. Teens get a bad record for staying up late at night, waking up late for school and falling asleep in class. It is necessary for teens to get enough sleep in order for them to function properly during school hours on a daily basis. The effects sleep deprivation on everybody in general can affect learning, performance (physically), attention (being focused), and cause health issues. By not getting the necessary amount of sleep can impair alertness, attention span, reaction time, awareness of the environment, concentration, Loss of motivation and fixating (stalling) on one thought. Some suggestions that can help prevent sleep deprivation is to, go to bed earlier each night, improve sleeping environment by keeping it dark, turning off the television and using relaxation techniques to help you fall asleep quickly.
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