Sleep Deprivation in Adolescents

Sleep is essential for the well-being of adolescents just like food, water, and even the air they breathe. Sleep helps adolescents in managing teenage-related stresses as well as assist them to eat well (Feinberg, 2013). Adolescents are so full of potential and life, and therefore so sleepy (Xue, 2012). However, several studies show that most adolescents do not receive the daily sleep they require. Teens have different needs for sleep, and the stage of their growth and development makes them need more sleep than adults (Feinberg, 2013). An average adolescent requires approximately nine hours of sleep every night so as to remain active and feel well-rested (Xue, 2012). This paper explores the sleep deprivation in adolescents, giving a description of the common sleeping habits of adolescents, as well as various challenges affecting their sleep.

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Some of the major factors that contribute to the deprivation of sleep in adolescents include busy schedules, rapidly changing bodies, a wrong view of sleep, as well as active social lives (Feinberg, 2013). Adolescents sleep-related problems can commence long before they turn thirteen. The changing bodies and sleep habits of teens at ten to twelve years of age have a close correlation to their age of growth and development. Additionally, the sleep patterns of adolescents are set firmly in their lives, which makes it difficult for them to change their sleep habits (Feinberg, 2012).

There exist two main factors that affect one’s level of sleepiness or alertness at any given time during the day. The first factor is the sleep-wake balance, which relates to the period taken since one last slept (Xue, 2012). One’s sleep-wake balance gets off when he or she remains awake for too long, thereby causing sleepiness (Xue, 2012). The second factor is the internal body clock which controls the body’s circadian rhythms (24-hour cycle) (Feinberg, 2013). During puberty, the body usually secretes a sleep-related hormone known as melatonin at a time different from its normal secretion period in adults (Feinberg, 2013). The secretion of the hormone melatonin, therefore, changes the circadian rhythms that are responsible for guiding the sleep-wake cycle and eventually affecting the sleeping habits in adolescents (Feinberg, 2013). The change of circadian rhythms in adolescents can make them throw off their body clocks by remaining awake until late in the night. Besides, the adolescents’ clock may also go off if they get used to changing their sleep and wake-up schedules. When the teens’ internal clocks get wrongly set, they can develop the habit of becoming very sleepy when they should be broadly awake (Feinberg, 2013).

Adolescence is a stage when the body starts experiencing several changes characterized by the physical ability of an individual to reproduce sexually (Xue, 2012). One of such changes is the natural shift in adolescent’s circadian rhythms, known as “sleep phase delay.” It makes the need to sleep in adolescents to get delayed for some hours (Xue, 2012). At the initial stages, teens may seem to be suffering from insomnia. In fact, it makes them have a difficult time falling asleep at the usual time. They, therefore, begin sleeping later, and eventually have an inadequate sleep during the night, forcing them to compensate for the lost sleep hours during the day (Xue, 2012).

Sleep deprivation is a devastating problem in adolescents and affects more than forty percent of teenagers at a given time of their development. The hormonal-related changes during the start of puberty, which delay the circadian rhythms in adolescents are usually incompatible with various societal demands which require teens to begin school early (Feinberg, 2013). As a result, teens face sleep restrictions throughout the school days, and they develop the habit of waking up later during weekends to compensate for the lost sleep. Sleep deprivation in adolescents may also result from autonomy in setting a bedtime and increased workload, which may, in turn, cause impaired academic performance (Xue, 2012).

The current generation of adolescents has addiction with the use of electronic devices such as cellphones, computers, which also contribute significantly to their poor sleep. Several studies link the adolescents’ access to various electronic devices with their habits of later bedtimes, shorter sleep durations, less time in bed, and daytime dizziness (Feinberg, 2013).

My personal experience with sleep troubles during my teenage years was when I had to report to school at dawn time, and after spending long, busy day at school, I had to study for some hours at home up to very late in the night. Reporting to school early in the morning together with much homework made it difficult for me to sleep on time and I always felt drowsy on most occasions during class hours.

In overall, several factors prevent adolescents from getting enough sleep, including the shifting of their body clocks, as well as the pressures faced at home, school, and work among other places. However, despite such factors, enough sleep remains vital for the adolescents if they are to stay active in their daily activities and concentrate on their studies. Enough sleep would make them feel comfortable, experience life in the best way, and make the adolescence stage of life easier for them.

 

References

Feinberg, I. (2013). Recommended Sleep Durations for Children and Adolescents: The Dearth of Empirical Evidence. SLEEP. http://dx.doi.org/10.5665/sleep.2520

Xue, M. (2012). Sleep Health Problems in Adolescents. Journal Of Sleep Disorders & Therapy01(04). http://dx.doi.org/10.4172/2167-0277.1000e111