Better sleep makes for a better life

By Abby McDermott

Teenagers often complain of tiredness and lack of sleep. Most high school students are not receiving the typical recommended 9.5 hours of sleep a night. Studies have shown that most teens only get 8.25 hours a night.

It is hard when the pressures of school, a job, and a social life take up most of the hours of the day. However, there are some tips one can apply to their life to improve the sleep they do get.

It is important to stick to a sleep schedule. Waking up and going to bed at the same times, even on the weekends, will improve the internal body clock and help get the body on a daily schedule, allowing it to go to deeper levels of sleep at night. A nighttime routine has also been proven to be very effective in relaxing the body and telling it to wind down. Exercise can also help nighttime sleep, although avoid excessive activity close to bedtime. Getting the heart rate up just before trying to relax is not a good idea. Naps can help deal with tiredness, but make sure only to limit them to about 10-30 minutes in the afternoon. If it is still impossible to fall asleep, do not keep lying in bed.

The anxiety of trying to fall asleep and failing keeps one up even longer. Instead of keeping still, get up and do a light activity such as reading a book for 20 minutes or getting a light snack. Sleep is such an important part of the day. It gives the body its proper rest and a chance to recuperate, and get ready for the next day.

According to a study at Harvard University, “sleep helps the brain commit new information to memory though a process called memory consolidation.”

As the body is sleeping, the brain is hard at work, storing information away and filing it for later use. Getting a good night’s sleep before a big test is ideal instead of staying up late cramming. Sleep also helps boost the immune system. While sleeping, the body releases cytokines which are proteins that are necessary in fighting infection. The more time the body gets to sleep, more cytokines are able to be produced, and the immune system becomes more effective. Studies have shown that not only those that do not get enough sleep are more prone to illness, but also those who do not get a good night’s sleep are prone.

It is not just about quantity, but quality, as well. The National Sleep Foundation says that at least 40 million Americans suffer from over 70 different sleep disorders.

Many of these disorders go untreated and undiagnosed, meaning that millions of Americans are hurting their bodies by not allowing them to get the proper sleep they need.

Not getting enough sleep results in tiredness, inattention, irritability, lack of concentration, lowered immune system health, and in the extreme case, hallucinations and even death.

Sleep deprivation is a serious illness that needs to be discussed with a doctor.

Doctors can prescribe sleeping pills that can help reset the internal body clock, and help one get a much better sleep.

Getting enough sleep will prepare teenagers for their daily schedules and will also help them be successful in their daily lives. Sleep is a simple but effective tool for conquering the overpowering world of high school.