Teenagers grow more and more busy by the minute. Unfortunately, this means less and less sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause many serious negative side effects to teenagers already harried lives. These side effects can range from such common problems as sleepiness during the day to more serious problems such as headaches, to the most extreme effect of alldeath. Misdiagnosed or undiagnosed, sleep deprivation is one of the hardest disorders to detect.
Truthfully, the only way to correct it is by always getting sufficient sleep, but the environment in which an adolescent exists often makes to quest for sufficient sleep impossible.
Sufficient sleep is defined as the amount necessary to permit optimal daytime functioning. (Dahl, 1) Some studies suggest adolescents need at least eight hours of consecutive sleep, but many indicate that 9.2 hours of sleep is truly needed. But the average teenager only sleeps about six hours on any given school night. And students at private schools generally sleep even less.
Some students in upper level courses who are also involved in many extracurricular activities sleep as little as two hours a night many times during the week, if at all. (Sinnott) Private school students are preparing for the college world, but not even college demands only two hours of sleep per night.
Sleep deprivation has many impacts on a teenagers life. These impacts are generally described in four categories: sleepiness; tiredness; negative effects on mood, attention, and behavior; and exaggerated impact on problems, both emotionally and behaviorally. These categories are only the first layer of an extremely complex disorder, a disorder in which it is difficult to identify actions, reactions, and causes.
The first category, sleepiness, is often attributed with brief mental lapses in which a student in school appears to be awake, but actually is mentally asleep, also know as daydreaming.
Sleepiness can actually progress to the next step, where the student may actually, physically fall sleep. These microsleeps (Freyer, 2) not only decrease a students school performance, but can lead to motor vehicle accidents. It is estimated that more than 200,000 motor vehicle accidents that occur each year are caused by or are related to drowsy drivers at the wheel. Sleepiness also creates difficulties in getting up on time, which further manifests conflicts with parents and teachers. (Falling asleep in class does not generally endear students to their teachers.)
The second category, tiredness, is a feeling of fatigue or decreased motivation.
Tiredness makes tedious tasks more difficult to accomplish and even begin. The more sleep deprived a student, the less motivated (s)he becomes. Tiredness is less evident while performing exciting energetic, fun activities, but conversely it is extremely obvious in tasks deemed boring or repetitious. Tiredness is most problematic when attempting long-term goals, such as reading or studying uninteresting topics, when there is not an immediate consequence, such as a test, at hand. In these cases, motivation, is not only decreased, but often, simply, does not exist.
The third category involves the impact the lack of sleep can have on the ability to control attention, mood, and behavior.
Generally, teenagers are already moody and easily frustrated due to the changes in hormone levels due to puberty. Add lack of sleep to that equation and the same teenager may seem overly excited, impulsive, or silly. They also may become angry, destructive, or abusive. Or they may be incredibly forgetful, passive and withdrawn, or overly emotional. Basically, reactions vary from teenager to teenager, but one constant is that the more sleep deprived a teenager becomes the more likely s(he) is to be at odds with teachers or parents.
This leads to the fourth category: impact of sleep deprivation on problems of teenagers, such as those caused by life or family.
Emotional problems can create difficulties in getting to sleep and waking on time, which leads to conflicts. The impact from these conflicts is greater because of the lack of sleep. For example, if faced with a frustrating task, a sleep-deprived teenager is more likely to become angry or aggressive. And with the added social pressures on teenagers todaysuch as drugs, violence, divorce, peer pressurethe likelihood of anger increases exponentially. With the divorce rate growing in this country teenagers are enduring greater family .