Heavy eyelids. Constant yawning. Utter lack of energy. Did we just describe how you feel in the morning? You're not alone! The American Academy of Pediatrics has recommended that schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. in order for students to get enough sleep. However, 5 out of 6 U.S. schools start earlier, meaning that students are not getting the sleep they need. More than 87 percent of high school students in the United States get less than the recommended eight to 10 hours, meaning that a huge chunk of America's teen population is sleep deprived1. What are the effects?
- Poor school performance. Teens who do not get enough sleep often have trouble listening and concentrating in school. How can you pay attention to the lecture if you can't even hold your eyes open?
- Unhealthy weight gain. Lack of sleep triggers hunger hormones, which can lead to overeating. This, in turn, leads to serious health problems, such as obesity and diabetes. Click here to read more about unhealthy weight gain in teens.
- Increased risk for drug use. Many sleep deprived teens turn to drugs,alcohol, or an excessive amount of energy drinks hoping to get a buzz and decrease their fatigue. Newsflash : This is a temporary solution at best. The long-term, negative effects outlast the quick burst of energy. Click here to read more about the health effects of energy drinks.
- Mood swings and irritability. Teens who sleep less than 8 hours a night often have severe mood swings and can even exhibit violent behavior.
The moral of the story? Schools start too early! While we might not be able to change that fact right now, students can still take measures to make sure they're getting enough sleep, even if that does mean they have to start going to bed a little earlier. In the long run, getting the proper amount of sleep will make you happier and healthier overall.