Sleeping is something we have always done- wake up, go about our days, then recharge by closing our eyes and falling asleep.  It’s part of a routine, something none of us would consider abnormal to do, but it still begs the question: why do we rely so heavily on sleep?

Sleeping is not only a way for our brains to ‘recharge’, but also is crucial for the development -both physically and mentally- especially in children and young adults.  Getting a good amount of rest allows our bodies to carry out actions like developing immunity against diseases and regulating our metabolism.

So what is enough sleep?  For every age group, the amount of sleep needed to function at top performance varies, but generally more sleep equates to better performance. Ideally, adolescents should sleep for around 8-10 hours of sleep per night, but a good amount do not.  For example, recent estimates suggest that 60 percent of middle schoolers and 70 percent of high schoolers do not get adequate sleep on school nights. This results in sleep deprivation, which in turn can have negative effects on a person socially, emotionally, and growth-wise.  Research has shown consistently that more sleep results in better mental health, better grades, and less motor vehicle accidents.  

Additionally, a major factor in how much sleep we’re getting/not receiving depends on electronics usage.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, about 90 percent of Americans regularly use an electronic device in the hour before they go to bed.  Screen usage emits blue light, which can be harmful, hence the blue light glasses that are sold to combat this, but also using your phone or device before sleep activates a part of your brain.  This part of the brain produces melatonin- which allows people to sleep- so when it is stimulated, production stops, and people find it harder to fall asleep.

As I have personally fallen victim to a cycle of sleep deprivation, I encourage not only others, but myself, to strongly consider these side effects and prioritize a healthy sleep schedule for success.