Sleep Deprivation


On average, teenagers need an average of 9½ hours of sleep. However, most teens only get around 7 hours. According to a 2010 large-scale study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, only 8% of teenagers get the recommended amount of sleep per night. 

This is a big issue because mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety can be caused by sleep deprivation. Also, teens have noticed that their mood is linked to the amount of sleep they get. “Usually I have a headache after staying up late, and I’m more likely to get angry with other people,” said Parker Rutherford, an 8th grade student here at Harvest Middle School.

When teens don’t get enough sleep, it also makes them more likely to abuse substances. According to the study, Adolescent Substance Use:  America’s #1 Public Health Problem, high school students who got 8 hours of sleep per night were significantly more likely than those who slept more than 8 hours to be current users of tobacco (22% vs. 15%), alcohol (46% vs. 34%), and marijuana (23% vs. 17%).

Sleep deprivation can be caused by many things; stress from school or mental illnesses (such as depression and/or anxiety) are common reasons. Teens also experience hormonal time shifts which cause their body clock to shift forward by about one or two hours, making them sleepier one to two hours later. This means that while most people begin getting tired around 9 or 10 pm, for teens it’s more like 11 or 12. Yet, while the teenager falls asleep later, early start times for school don’t give them time to sleep in.

If teens aren’t getting enough sleep, how will they be able to succeed and thrive in life?