Sleep stimulates, saves lives

Sleep stimulates, saves lives

Photo Credit: Photo illustration by Leslie Verdugo

Too many students fall victim to a lack of sleep during the middle of the school day.

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March 1, 2012 • Leslie Verdugo, Features Editor  
Filed under Health and Fitness

To fall asleep in one’s class is an embarrassing experience, but the brain fails to register this because of the poor night’s rest it had. Across the country people are failing to get the right amount of sleep their body needs due to a variety of factors that keep them awake. This leads to an array of health issues that are potentially damaging to one’s overall well-being.

Part of the development process involves stimulating activity as well as rest. The brain lets the body know what to do and what to consume. Sleep is triggered by the hormone melatonin located in the pineal gland at the base of the brain. This sets our biological time clock which is also know as the circadian rhythm. During sleep the body reproduces cells, and the brain processes the information it consumed during the day. Infants sleep for 12-13 hours per day while adults need 7-9 hours.  For teenagers, the body needs around eight hours of sleep in order to preform at one-hundred percent. According to sleepfoundation.org only fifteen percent of teens reported they sleep the required eight hours of sleep. This leads to a series of health problems and mental disorders.

Sleepdex.org illustrates the sleep debt of staying awake after three days: the first day of no sleep the person is irritable and tired; the second day concentration is minimal; on the third day the person will begin to hallucinate and lose grasp of reality. Also a recent U.S. Army study included both short-term and long-term risks of sleep deprivation. The short-term risks was with the loss of one and a half hours of sleep reduces 32 percent in daytime alertness, impaired memory and cognitive functions, and one runs double the risk of occupational injury. The long-term effects result in various heart conditions, mood disorders, and even obesity.

Sleep deprivation affects one’s performance levels which means it will limit their ability to focus, learn, and solve problems. Every other cell will reproduce itself if it is at a level of relaxation, but the brain requires sleep in order to connect neuron synapses and retain new information. Yet the brain is being overworked by the constant stream of information into the late hours of the night. Cellphones, television shows, and the Internet provides the temptation to stay awake late.

Another problem is stress may it be stress from work, school, or relationship problems.  Without sleep a person is constantly irritated with anything and everything around them which in the end may affect those around them. Everything begins to spiral downwards taking test scores and work performance and loved ones with it.

It is imperative for teens, especially those who drive, to maintain an optimum level of alertness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found that 100,000 traffic accidents happen each year due to drowsiness or fatigue and that half of them are young drivers. For teens it is important to get a good night’s rest, for the consequences both short and long-term are a risk too high to take.

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