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  • Salma Kinawi

The effects of Sleep Deprivation and How to Enforce Positive Sleeping Habits

As we reach the end of the semester, balancing school is becoming more stressful and several students sacrifice sleep in favor of completing assignments, studying, or even having some free time. It is a common struggle, according to a 2015 study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 72.7% of high school students do not get enough sleep! Yet people fail to recognize the detrimental health effects sleep deprivation causes.

Students who do not get enough sleep have been deemed at higher risk for several health complications such as poor mental health, obesity, type 2 diabetes, and attention issues which potentially could affect academic performance. Essentially sleep along with food and air is what the function of our body relies on; once sleep leaves the equation the consequences affect the entirety of our bodies. For instance, while sleeping our central nervous system, which is the “information highway” of our body, forms pathways between neurons in our brain to aid in memory. Consequently, without sleep our memory becomes clouded and it is harder to retain new information. Sleep deprivation has also been proven to cause the same level of cognitive impairment as drinking alcohol! As determined by the CDC, staying awake for 18 hours can have the same effect as a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.05%; once you have been up for 24hours it equates to a blood alcohol level of 0.10% which is higher than the legal limit. This makes impaired driving common for those who are lacking sleep, drivers who sleep less than 5 hours are more than 5 times as likely to have a car accident than those who sleep 7 hours or more. It is evident that sleep deprivation causes more harm than good, yet students still opt to reduce their hours of sleep.

With what sometimes feels like too few hours in the day it is understandable to assume that cutting a few hours of sleep is the right decision. However, sleep deprivation can become chronic and your body will begin to accumulate sleep debt, significantly impacting the quality of your life. With that being said there are numerous ways to end the vicious cycle and enforce positive sleeping habits. Making sleep a priority is an initial step; meaning-making sure to make time for the appropriate amount of sleep no matter the urgency of other tasks. Additionally staying ahead of schoolwork and avoiding procrastination will result in less late-night studying which can become a large barrier for several students. Other positive reinforcements include: going to bed at the same time every night, spending an hour before bed doing relaxing activities rather than spending time on electronic devices and especially avoiding caffeine a few hours prior to bedtime. Once a few steps have been taken the reward of feeling more alert and awake will definitely be worth the price and your body will thank you!


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