It is not surprising that sleep deprivation holds negative effects on a person, regardless of whether you are a young child or in your older years. There is a reason why sleep is important to the development of the mind and body – but it is even more so for teens, because their bodies are at a critical stage of development.
In fact, when a teen suffers from sleep deprivation, the overall effects on their long term health of body and mind are significant. Yet, when you think about it, teens are the most likely people to experience sleep deprivation – the National Sleep Foundation estimated in 2006 that 87 percent of American teens were sleep deprived.
Why this surge of teens experiencing sleep deprivation is happening
The statistics of sleep deprivation are discouraging, to say the least. Almost half of them, almost 45 percent, do not experience enough quality and quantity of sleep. In addition, ten percent of them have said they have issues with falling asleep, and they feel sleepy during the day, almost every day.
This is likely due to the convergence of a number of factors. For instance, the increasing use of technology and the increasing levels of stress will create a chronic sleep deprivation recipe, and that automatically leads to a number of health risks.
This is not entirely their fault though. A teenager is biologically predisposed to sleep at later hours and wake up later, making early bedtime a challenging task. For the sake of their health though, you need to be aware of the risks associated with poor sleep quantity and quality.
Problems with their mental health
A study done on about 28,000 high school students revealed that every hour of lost sleep will increase the chances of a teenager to feel hopeless and sad by about 38percent, and the risk of suicide increases by 58 percent. For a teen sleeping six hours every night or less, the risk of suffering from depression increases by about three times, according to a 2010 study.
For most teenagers, that is where the solution lies. Instead of giving them medication, they are encouraged to sleep for longer hours and better. In fact, the average teen will need about nine hours of sleep a night.
If you are the parent of a teen, your intervention can also make a difference. Make sure to set some guidelines, and early bedtimes for them – it will make a major difference.
Increasing risk of substance abuse
Research continues to prove that there is a strong relationship between drug and alcohol abuse and sleep losses. The increasing occurrences of sleep deprivation will also lead to a higher rate of dependence on drugs, and drug use in turn will fuel issues with sleep. There are facts that prove the connection between problems like substance abuse and poor sleep, which goes to indicate sleep problems will predictteen substance abuse.
In fact, this is a serious matter, because for every ten minutes your teen delays to go to bed, their chances of abusing marijuana and alcohol increase by 6 percent. Other research studies confirm the relationship between sleep deprivation and binge drinking, risky sexual behavior and DUI (driving under the influence).
These issues are similar for both girls and boys, because the emotional and mental changes occurring to them are very similar to each other. Poor sleep makes it difficult for them to regulate their mental and emotional responses, making them more impulsive.
Problems with their behavior and learning abilities
The sad thing about the sleep deprivation problem is that it only seems to be on the rise. For instance, one in four teens will go to sleep after 11:30 pm on a weeknight, and this causes them to be low on energy and mental clarity the next day – resulting in worsening grades and emotional problems. For a younger teenager, lack of sleep will make them hyperactive, impulsive, oppositional and inattentive.
It is therefore no surprise to see these teens struggling to keep their grades up or their behavior okay. You as an adult will struggle to concentrate on tasks when you are sleep deprived, so it is even worse for them.
This is because the brain requires sleep, so that it can efficiently carry out its learning, emotion regulation and memory processes. It gives it an opportunity to consolidate all the memories of the previous day, and store it so that it is easier to retrieve when you are awake.
A greater risk of suffering from obesity
The physical health of a young person is greatly impacted when they do not get enough sleep, especially because it has a strong link to obesity and diabetes – even though this may happen later on.
If the teen is already suffering from diabetes, poor sleep quality and quantity will worsen their problem. the Type I diabetes that is common in children and teens brings them a problem when they are trying to sleep, which in turn creates issues when their body is trying to regulate sugar and control their behavior.
Greater dependence on anxiety and sleep medication
Did you know that many prescription medications for sleep are not approved for use by people under the age of 18? However, that has not stopped teens from getting these medicines, whose long term effects on their brains are still unknown.
However, the one risk to be wary of for them is the development of prescription pill addiction. These medicines arehighly habit forming, making them more likely to abuse them by up to 12 times, compared to teens who do not have a prescription. In addition, that can lead into addiction to illicit substances such as heroin later on in their lives, once their bodies develop tolerances to these pills.
As a parent, it is important to ensure your teen gets sufficient levels and quality of sleep as they grow, because it is essential to their overall development. It will also save them from these health risks, so encourage greater levels of sleep hygiene.