The World Of The Sleep Deprived Teenagers English Language Essay

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Sleep is an essential part everyone's everyday life. Without it, many do not function to the best of their ability, which brings us to the topic of sleep deprived teenagers. Teenagers who roll out of their beds and drag themselves to their first period class on five hours of sleep, will most likely not be prepared to complete tasks, and take in knowledge and information. Some experts concluded that high school start times are too early for the growing teenager, and that it is having dramatic effects on the young adults [1] . It will be interesting to explore the reasons these teens are not getting enough sleep, as well as how their average will reflect their sleeping patterns. James B. Maas, a psychologist from Cornell University quoted that almost all teenagers, as they hit puberty, become walking zombies because they are getting far too little sleep [2] . The following study was done to determine how the sleeping habits of teenagers in high school, affect their grades, as well as their learning capabilities.


Research has shown that teenagers don't get enough sleep at night and go to school tired. Some experts believe the cause is biological, others believe that teenagers stay up late because of adolescent distractions. Early high school start times can also contribute to teens' tiredness, and perhaps be a factor as to why a student is not succeeding within their classes [3] . Lack of sleep affects teens' ability to function at school. Whether the person is a child, a teenager, or an adult, the signs of sleep deprivation are. A recent study showed that sleep deprivation can affect mood, performance, attention, learning, behavior and biological functions [4] . Research shows that teenagers need nine hours of sleep at night, as compared with eight hours needed for adults [5] . Teenagers do not have the same biorhythms as adults, and need a greater amount of sleep for a number of reasons. The adolescent is going through major pubescent changes with rapid growth and development. During sleep the body repairs, restores, and rebuilds that which is necessary to maintaining a healthy body. If the body is deprived of adequate and sufficient sleep, then many of these functions cannot be performed, or performed properly [6] . Centers for Disease

Control and Prevention asked more than 12,000 Canadian high school students how much sleep they were getting each night. Of the 12,000 students surveyed, only 900 reported getting the recommended amount of nine hours [7] . In the following study, factors such as reasons for staying up late, attention level in classes and how many times per week students are late, will all be discovered. Forty-two students from Iroquois Ridge High School have filled out a survey which lead to many findings and links between behavior in school and their sleeping habits.


For the purpose of this report, I have conducted a survey on a sample of individuals, which began on May 18th, 2010, and ended on May 20th, 2010. It was comprised of several multiple choice questions revolving around the central idea of the sleeping habits of teenagers, and they behavior, and mood within school. There were a total of 42 responses, where 20 were males, and 22 were females.

The survey consisted of 11 questions, asking students about the hours of sleep they receive, their mood when sleep deprived, etc. At the beginning of the survey it was explained that all information would be kept confidential, and would be used for data purposes only. The information collected during the survey was to further discover the correlations between the sleeping habits of students and their school work. The sampling method used was clustered random sampling, where classes act as clusters in the larger population of Iroquois Ridge High School. This may have resulted in a response-bias, because most of the students that filled out the survey were in the twelfth grade as opposed to having an equal number of students per grade filling it out. Grade twelve students may have also been bias because they may have been a bit less careless due to already being accepted into University, as opposed to grade elevens who are still pushing to get their marks in. Other limitation that may have hindered with the data collected may have been that summatives and year-end projects were present while collecting my data. Many students tend to have less sleep when faced with a heavier work load, and it may have not been their regular sleep pattern. I would have also liked to survey more samples of students from schools out of town, if I had the proper resources. 42 students is a fairly small sample group, and data may have been more accurate with a high number of responses. Last but not least another restriction may have been the all around honesty of the students who were surveyed. Some students may have felt self conscious of their average,

and may have not put their actual average, which would have hindered the data collected. After receiving all the data on May 20th, I was able to look at my findings, and begin to make connections..

General Results

After distributing my survey out in classrooms and over internet socializing, 42 students completed the survey, 34 being grade twelve's, 4 being grade elevens, 1 being a grade nine, and 3 being returning students. The students were first asked how many hours of sleep on average did they receive on week nights. 9% of students claimed they received an average of 5 hours of sleep per week night. 21% of the students claimed they slept 6 hours, 33% claimed they slept for 7 hours, 30% said they slept for 8 hours, and finally a sad amount of 4% of the students surveyed claimed they received the recommended amount, of nine hours. The graph to the right displays the finding of the frequency of hours slept by the students. In the previously discussed survey by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we saw that an astonishing low number of 7% of students claimed to be receiving their nine hours of sleep, compared to this survey which discovered a weak 4% getting the recommended 9 hours. The students were also asked within the survey, how their mood was altered if they did not receive a suffiecient amount of sleep and went to school.

28 students said they felt lazy, 27 students claimed they felt as if they were "zoned out". 19 students claimed to be irritable, 17 students said they get careless, 11 students said they would be quiet, 7 said they get depressed, 4 said angry, and only one student out of the 42 students surveyes said they felt "perfectly fine". This all comes back around to the idea that sleep loss can lead to the development or exacerbation of behavioral and emotional problems within teenagers.

So why aren't these teenagers sleeping? What is it that is keeping these teenagers from getting the recommended nine hours of sleep per night? Within the survey students were asked to check off the reason as to why they stay up late and miss out on hours of sleep.

Technology seemed to be the main reasons students were staying up late which isn't very surprising, but homework was another large factor to the teens' late nights. An astonishing amount of 12 students admitted that homework was the main reason they were staying up late. One solution to the Facebook problem would be having the parents step in and tell their children that they couldn't be on the computer after a certain time.

Lack of Sleep Affecting Academics

It has already been discussed that children who enter the classroom sleep deprived will be effected negatively, and will not be able to learn to the best of their ability. Within the survey the students were asked to rate their overall attention level when in the class room on a scale, 1 being very poor attention, and 5 being excellent.

When looking at the correlation between the hours of sleep slept by a student, and their attention level, it becomes clear that the students who received more sleep are more attentive in the classroom. Research concludes that when teenagers are sleep deprived they have more trouble focusing and attaining information than if they had received a proper 9 hour sleep.

This could be a large factor as to why student who receive more hours of sleep are able to do succeed more in school, and receive higher marks than those who are sleep deprived. It would be frustrating for an instructor to teach a class of students when half of them are sleeping. This is often the scene during the first period of school and the first class after lunch, when the normal biorhythms of the body trigger fatigue. Sleep deprivation has long been reported to contribute to emotional and mental changes as seen in students with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), depression, anxiety, among other behavioral changes. Within the survey, the students were also asked to provide their average of their marks last semester. 1 representing below 50%, 2 representing 50-59%, 3 being 60-69%, 4 being 70-79%, 5 being 80-89% and finally 6 which represented 90-99%. To see how the averages of the students correlated with the hours slept by each student, I created a scatter plot graph to reveal the pattern.

The graph reveal that the more hours of sleep a student received, the higher their average was of the previous semester. Researchers at the University of Minnesota reported the results of a study of more than 7,000 high school students whose school district had switched in 1997, from a 7:15 a.m. start time to an 8:40 a.m. start time. Compared with students whose schools maintained earlier start times, students with later starts reported getting more sleep on school nights, being less sleepy during the day, getting slightly higher grades and experiencing fewer depressive feelings and behaviors. So the question is, if school started later in the day, would students start doing better in school? Well although it may seem like the marks would increase, some teenagers may just advantage of the later start, and stay up later doing things such as video games or texting. Not to mention that 15 percent of teenagers say they fell asleep at school sometime during the year during a class lesson.

Arriving Late is Affecting Academics

After hitting the snooze button a half-dozen times and making it to your first period class 45 minutes late, are you going to be learning to the best of your ability? Students were asked how many times per week they arrived to their first period class late, 7 students said 5 times a week, which is every day, 4 students said 4 times per week, a large amount of 14 students said 3 times, 6 said twice, 9 said once, and only 2 students out of the 42 surveyed said they were never late for their first period class. When comparing the students' averages to how many times per week they were late, what was expected had shown. Students who were late on a more regular basis had a lower average, and the students who were either never late or late once or twice per week had the higher averages. Anyone may assume that this is because the students who arrive on time are the ones who come to class prepared to learn, and who are mentally there to attain all information.

Being late for class due to sleeping in can also have an effect on a student's attentiveness in the classroom. One of the most common side effects of sleep deprivation is a lack of concentration. Sleep is food for the brain. During sleep, important body functions and brain activity occur. The following chart shows the correlation between the hours of sleep a student receives and their attentiveness.

The chart reveals that students who sleep for a longer period of time have a higher attention level, and the students who receive fewer hours of sleep have a lower attention level within the classroom. A student's attentiveness can determine whether the student is able to do well in a class or not, and that is why it is not surprising why this correlation and the correlation between times late and average look so similar. Just like a person cannot jog for three continuous days a person's brain cannot operate without rest breaks. Since different regions of the brain rest during different stages of the sleep cycle, sleep cannot be cut short. In fact, if the brain does not receive a break it will soon begin to shut down for periods of microsleep. This is essentially several seconds of actual sleep; delta waves that interrupt the regular EEG of an awake person thereby impairing his or her continuity of cognitive function. It was recently discovered in a sleep study at Tel Aviv University, that children's ability to learn was seriously impaired by even the slightest amount of sleep deprivation. In fact, one study group was able to improve on tests assessing attention span and memory by almost 2 grade levels just by adding an hour of sleep.

The final correlation made was between a student's times late per week, and their average amount of hours slept per week night. In the following chart, the pattern between students who are often late will go hand-in-hand with their time spent on their pillow.

It is clear that the more hours of sleep a student receives, the less often they are late for class. This means that when students have gotten enough sleep, they are able to wake up early, and come to class more attentive and ready to learn, and attain information.

Future Work

There are several factors within the data of this study that could be further improved. Starting with getting a larger sample size and getting a variety of grades involved would be my first change to my collection of data. Also if provided with the proper resources, going to different towns and school would be a better representation of the student population, and probably would result in more accurate data. Also within my survey I had students rate themselves, which I could also switch in order to get better data results for my study. If given the time I would have loved to have students actually record their own data for a series of a week then provide me with their raw data for me to put together. This would be very hard to get students to agree to, especially a good amount of them, but it may be a lot more accurate than simply rating themselves which could be taken from several different perspectives.


In conclusion I believe that students truly do not realize what a lack of sleep will do to them, and there performance in the classroom. Many students could probably do so much better in school if they treated their body with care, and gave it the sleep it needed to function properly. Due to the biological clock of teenagers, and the fact that they're going through puberty and need more sleep than adults, it could be harmful for them to miss out on their sleep, and may affect the development of their body and brain. Although it was been argued whether high school classes should start later in the day to allow teenagers to get more sleep, I'd have to say I disagree with this idea, and think that students must learn how to go to bed earlier, and have their priorities set out straight so they are able to get to class on time and be attentive. Not to mention that technology is one of the largest reasons teenagers are staying up and missing out on their beauty sleep. Overall, I believe that the sleeping habits of teenagers strongly affect the academics, as well as their learning abilities. I also believe that high school students should be more aware of statistics such as the ones seen in this study, because most of them probably do not even realize that they are being affected by sleep deprivation.

Works Cited

- Carpenter, Siri. "Sleep Deprivation may be undermining teen health". October 2001.

- Glosser, Giselle. Math Goodies, "Teens, Sleep and School". N.D.

- Mundorff, Linda. "Our Teenagers are not Getting Enough Sleep". January 2010.

- Cherry, Kendra. "Teens are not Getting Enough Sleep, New Survey Suggests". February 2010

- Noland, Heather. "Adolescences' sleep behaviours and perception of sleep". May 2009

- Dahl, Ronald E. "The Consequences of Insufficient Sleep for Adolescents Links between Sleep and Emotional Regulation" April 1999.;jsessionid=L2YJng2vyqYQVzVv1Y6R4M4TFs6JGWdWBGhPGJQ1KyTLs8LzQH5D!1115883797!-2083947951?docId=5001266119

- Cannel, Michael. "Sleep in? Dream on? December 1998.