The phenomenon of sleep deprivation among high school students is a continuous cycle. After a long day at school, it’s likely for any teenager to participate in an extracurricular activity, work, or other responsbility before spending hours completing an overhwleming, anxiety-inducing, and often unreasonable pile of homework. These late hours are paired with early mornings, leaving a small window for the dismissed priority of any sort of recovery: sleep.

This cycle is becoming all too real for too many teenagers, with consequences including difficulty retaining information, anxiety, depression, physical stress, social difficulty, disruption of the circadian rhythm, decreased motivation, and thoughts of suicide. As the pressure placed on teenagers continues to increase, life continues to become more fast-paced, and the need for sleep becomes more desparate, this is an issue that needs to be both recognized and addressed for the sake of the physical, emotional, and mental health of high school students.

According to an article writen by Ruthann Richter, Stanford School of Medicine Director of Media Relations, 87% of teenagers are averaging far less than the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, making it extremely difficult for them to reach their potential in terms of performance. In addition to being biologically programmed to go to sleep later throughout teenage years, high schoolers face technological distractions, with roughly 92% owning a cell phone as of 2015. They’re constantly playing catch up amidst the pressure to compete and succeed. What most don’t realize, though, is that the lack of sleep limits how well our brains can function–no matter how hard we study or how late we stay up writing essays, we simply cannot do our best work without adequate sleep.

With this understanding of the ways in which sleep deprivation can be seen as an epidemic among teens, the solution seems to be rooted in cutting back on pressure. A “cultural shift” must be initiated in order for teachers and parents to sympathize with teens, understand the issue at stake, and find ways to encourage habits that prioritize sleep.


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Among teens, sleep deprivation an epidemic


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March 15, 2021 7:03 am

Dear Nicolette,
I found your post very informative on the topic of sleep deprivation in teens. I myself struggle with regulating my own sleeping schedule. One line that stood out to me was, “…87% of teenagers are averaging far less than the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep each night, making it extremely difficult for them to reach their potential in terms of performance. It shows how many teens aren’t getting an adequate amount of time to sleep. Some could carry on with as little as 4 hours every day. It’s a problem that hasn’t been fully addressed, yet it is having great consequences. I agree with your post and the arguments brought up.

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