Sleep deprivation in teenagers

Hunter Bish, Editorial Editor

North senior Ray Vanna wakes up at 6:05 a.m. every school day. After he gets home from work at 9:30-10 p.m. the night prior to complete his homework

Time crunches like this are normal day for many modern-day students as most schools in the country start before 8:30 a.m. according to RAND Corporation, with many students getting on average seven hours of sleep according to the Children’s Hospital. This is due to the after-school activities that students may be involved in such as sports, clubs or a part-time job. Typically, students begin their homework after these extracurriculars which results in a later bedtime.

“Sleep is really important for not only your health, but your tasking skills.” Sophomore Mykenzie Rimbo said. “When you don’t get enough sleep then it makes it really hard to stay awake and be on task because your brain is tired and overwhelmed. When you see your grades start dropping, it may be because you don’t understand the lesson, or you’re not getting enough sleep and are having a hard time focusing.”

A U.S. census revealed that more than ¼ of high school students have part-time jobs which results in later nights due to the part-time hours mostly being in the evenings to fit with school hours.

According to, teenagers will fall asleep later in the night than most people, due to the natural circadian time clock which automatically resets. The hormone melatonin then begins to produce much later in teenagers which causes later bedtimes.

The use of electronics can also play a part in a lack of sleep,

“The blue light from electronics disrupts the circadian rhythm causing the body to react as if it is still daytime.” North school nurse, Kiersten Grant said. “Blue light increases cortisol levels and decreases melatonin. At bedtime, cortisol should be lower and melatonin higher, so avoiding electronic devices like cell phone and computers prior to going to sleep is very important.”

The National Sleep Foundation has come out with research suggesting 25% of students will fall asleep in class due to a lack of sleep the night prior, which is considered one of many problems that health experts suggest will occur with too little sleep.

“Not getting enough sleep really takes a toll on not only my body but on many others,” Sophomore Bella Horzen said. “It affects how much I pay attention. Not getting enough sleep causes me to doze off in class, so I am unable to focus.”

The Health Foundation has suggested that not getting the 8-10 hours of sleep that is advised for teenagers can eventually lead to a higher risk of many health problems,

“Long term sleep deprivation can lead to heart disease, diabetes, mental health issues like anxiety and depression, and obesity,” Grant said.

The Health Foundation research shows that many sleep deprived teenagers will have extreme mood swings the following day.

“When I don’t get enough sleep I feel slow, tired and I act very crabby.” Rimbo said. We all have different activities and priorities to do and sometimes school can make you overwhelmed and cause you to not get enough sleep.”

Many students will attempt to take pills and vitamins to make up for the lack of sleep which should be avoided at all costs according to Dr. Michael Breus.

“Melatonin is a sleep and body clock regulator – NOT a sleep initiator. Melatonin works with your biological clock by telling your brain when it is time to sleep.” Breus said.

Breus also claims that too much melatonin can lead to headaches, nausea, hormone fluctuation, and very vivid dreams.

Start times for schools on average are around 8:03 a.m. according to a 2016 U.S. census, while district 202 has a larger impact on students especially since it holds a 7:05 a.m. start time. These school start times can deeply affect students sleep schedules,

“I am in extracurricular activities, so I get home late anyway.” Senior Parker Lopez said. “I then am up until around midnight doing homework which gets me around 4-5 hours of sleep. Start times definitely need to be backed up.”

A survey given to 1104 North students indicated that 90.5% get below the 8-10 hours of sleep that is recommended by health professionals and the CDC.

A large cause of this lack of sleep can be because of part-time jobs, many employers in Illinois will keep minors at work up until the legal minor work curfew which is 10 p.m. This can then prevent students from completing their homework at an appropriate time for bedtime.

Sleep is what drives people moment to moment in life and is the way of refueling for each day. Losing this chance to refuel can affect students not only in their personal life, but in their school-life as well.

“Students need adequate sleep to focus in class, retain information, and perform well on tests and quizzes.” Grant said.