As high school students, our sleep schedule can either be set in stone or all over the place. Some nights you might have to stay up late to cram for a test or finish 42 math problems while other nights you get a full eight hours of sleep. What are the results of this type of inconsistency on your body, and what other factors can play into restless sleep?
Many students at Lebanon High School struggle with insomnia. Insomnia, defined by healthline.com, is the inability to fall asleep, stay asleep or even both. Insomnia is the most common type of sleep disorder and can be caused by too much caffeine consumption, an irregular sleep schedule, high stress, anxiety and depression or back pain. Most teenagers struggle with at least one of the things listed in the previous sentence, and some might even struggle with more.
What can not enough sleep do to someone’s body? When a person does not get enough sleep, their body starts to fall behind their normal routine. Theclevelandclinic.org reports that when a person is not getting at leastseven hours of sleep, their alertness, memory, relationships and their quality of life will start to dwindle. As you are sitting in class running off of three hours of sleep, your brain reacts a lot slower than it normally does. Not only could this cause you to miss important notes and information, it could cause you to forget basic information while taking a test or quiz. But the problems do not stop in the classroom – a person’s relationships and quality of life can also be affected. Lack of sleep can make a person feel moody and distant, which can cause conflicts within their close relationships. You also could become more hesitant to participate in normal daily activities or exercises because of the drowsiness you might be experiencing.
If a person continues to run off of little to no sleep, it could cause some serious long-term health problems. Young adults might start experiencing health issues such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart attacks, heart failure, or even a stroke. Even when balancing work, school and potentially a sport, it is always important that you take the time you need to get the proper rest. Designate one day of the week, whether that is a Monday night or a Sunday morning, where you take a break from all electronics and friends just to give your body enough time to recuperate. One test or one homework assignment is not worth your long-term health.
Let’s talk about caffeine consumption. It is not unhealthy to drink 1-2 cups of coffee a day, but any more than that can become high stress on your body. Not only can too much caffeine throughout the day create a person’s anxiety to increase, according to webmd.com you should stop drinking caffeine six hours before bed. Because caffeine is a stimulant that keeps the brain and body awake, any kind of coffee, pop or energy drink that contains caffeine can keep a person awake for five hours after they last consumed it. Even if you are up late studying for finals, try to refrain from drinking surplus amounts of caffeine past 4pm. A good night’s sleep will prepare your brain for a big test more than three cups of coffee at 10pm will.
While some students struggle with not enough sleep, others might actually struggle with too much sleep. Medicalnewstoday.com reports that too much sleep could be just as negative as not enough sleep. Many students believe that going through the week running on four hours of sleep each night is okay because they will ‘catch up’ on it during the weekend. This idea is not true – creating an irregular sleep pattern, where you sleep for three hours one night and 13 the next – can cause anxiety, depression, sleep disorders or other long-term health issues. If you or someone you know is sleeping more than nine hours every night, you are advised to see a medical health professional. Too much sleep can also be caused by diseases such as arthritis, fibromyalgia, and/or diabetes. It is important that you check up on your health and always make sure you are getting the recommended 7-9 hours of sleep each night.
Not only is caffeine in the evening bad for your sleep schedule, so is your phone and/or laptop 30 minutes before bed. According to the sleepfoundation.org, using an electronic right before bed can actually suppress the release of melatonin which can make it difficult for someone to fall asleep. This is actually due to the blue light waves that emit off of your phone and into your brain – this increases your alertness and prevents your body from truly relaxing. Although it is not ideal and it does not compare to scrolling through social media or texting your friends, reading is a good substitution when trying to relax before bed. Along with reading, listening to classical music at a low level can also help relax your brain.
Being a student, whether that is in high school or in college, sleep is not an easy thing to manage. Some nights you could get a full eight hours, while other nights you could only get three. Make sure you steer clear of caffeine after 4pm, shut your phone off 30 minutes before bed and prioritize your responsibilities in order to regulate your sleep.