I was just speaking to a twenty-something graphic designer about setting up a meeting and was taken aback when he replied, “I am not a morning person. Could we meet after 10:30 am?” He readily admitted that he while he has been out of college and graduate school for a few years, he is still on the “work until the wee hours of the night and sleep in late” schedule. No 9:00 to 5:00 corporate schedule for this young business owner.
Our conversation segued into how backwards it seems for high school to start before elementary school when younger kids naturally wake earlier than teens who are biologically driven to sleep longer and later than do young children and adults. The National Sleep Foundation advises teens to get 8.5 to 9.25 hours of sleep each night. Do you know any teen who is getting more than eight hours of sleep on a school night? I don’t.
Lack of sleep: Negative side effects for teens.
No matter which study you reference, teens today are woefully tired. The National Sleep Foundation reports that only one fifth of American teenagers are regularly getting a good night’s sleep and that the consequences are serious. Teens not getting sufficient sleep are more likely to feel depressed, earn lower grades, and be impaired drivers.
The American Psychological Association concurs. They site National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics that “Drowsiness and fatigue cause more than 100,000 traffic accidents each year, and young drivers are at the wheel in more than half these crashes.” The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention call insufficient sleep “a public health epidemic.”
Another negative side effect of lack of sleep is the suppression of creativity. The Creative Something blog, explains,
More often than not the absolute best way to solve a problem or find a solution to a stressful situation in your life is to try and sleep on it. It’s really that easy…In short: sleeping makes your brain’s job of cleaning up memories, sorting through ideas still floating around the neural network, and doing any repairs on damaged connections, easier.At night, when not much else is going on, maintenance and rest are ideal. So our bodies have adapted to follow that routine.This helps explain why we often wake up in the middle of the night with a solution to a problem we experienced earlier in the day. Through sleep, your brain has the energy and focus to sort through everything that needs to be sorted through.
It is virtually impossible for parents of teens to enforce eight hours of sleep per night for their children. For starters, teens are not apt to comply with a “bedtime,” but even if they were, after-school activities and hours of homework assignments prohibit that reality. For some inexplicable reason, I find it hard to go to sleep before my daughter closes her laptop and shuts off her light. Could it be that sleep deprivation loves company?