Instead of getting the 8½ to 9 hours of sleep that experts recommend, high school students are only averaging 5-7 hours of sleep per night.
Most students don't realize how much their sleep deprivation is affecting their mental and physical states. “You might not see it physically, but mentally they are exhausted because of lack of sleep,” says Griswold High School Science Teacher Meagan Dunaway. She even sees some kids who are no longer able to function in their right mind due to lack of sleep.
Nationwide, kids are almost forgetting what it's like to get a good night's rest. Only about 15% of students get 8½ hours of sleep. The Sleep Foundation, a group who studies sleep patterns says it's not just their homework keeping them up, but it's also the electronics. “I stay up looking on social media a little bit and kinda get side tracked, then fall asleep,” admits Helix Freshman Kyla Harper. Our society has made this generation into “electronic-a-holics.” Many teens don't know how to live without phones, wifi, and tv, and many take that addiction into the late-night hours.
Lack of sleep can cause many health issues that young people don't think about. The Sleep Foundation states when a person stays up late, the hormones in the body that tell students that they aren't hungry go down and the hormones that signal hunger go up. Society may start to see a lot more obesity in teens now due to late nights.
Some teachers are no longer believing the excuse that students stay up so late due to homework, but instead, the real culprit is the excessive use of electronics. Teachers believe kids are spending too much time on electronics and not enough time on their school work.
However, when adults look at it from the students side, they'll say that they have homework and are working on it, but at the same time, looking on social media or using some sort of electronics.
The Sleep Foundation seems to support the teachers, and shows that when they pick up their phone or electronic of some sort, it takes 30 minutes or longer to focus back on the topic actually at hand. “They stay up watching How To Get Away with Murder, and talking to their friends so they don't go to bed till midnight or later,” states Ms. Dunaway.
The Sleep Foundation also reports that teens who sleep with electronics in their rooms, or who are on them right before bed, find it more difficult to fall asleep and stay asleep.
Today, however, almost all school work has to be accessed on electronics of some sort, which isn't helping the situation of students staying up late. Despite all of the research that points to electronics being one of the main reasons contributing to sleep deprived teens, technology does help teachers and students accomplish their assignments more efficiently.
But do students choose to be up late even when they don't have homework, or do they use that time to catch up on the sleep that they lack? “I don’t like staying up that late unless I have to,” says Harper. Students don't usually choose to stay up as late as they do. If they have the choice, most teens will choose to sleep as much as they can, just to catch up on the other days where they are lacking.
Teen’s brains are also wired differently than adults or younger kids. The Sleep Foundation reports that teen’s brains don't usually shut off or let them fall asleep until 11:00 to 12:00 pm. This causes them to want to sleep in later.
When a teenager is in their room still out like a rock, it isn't just their schedule and their electronics that are to blame, it also has to do with how their brain is wired.