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How Lack of Sleep Affects Your Body

by Jasmine Wu & Ann Zhang

Sleep is perhaps one of the most important parts of our everyday routines. Depending on the amount of sleep we get, we can either wake up feeling completely rejuvenated or downright lethargic. Like food and water, getting enough sleep is essential in maintaining a productive and healthy lifestyle. 

In an article from the NIH (National Institute of Health), sleep is said to contribute to numerous brain and body functions. Things such as your metabolism, immune function, disease resistance, mood, brain function, and heart function are all dependent on the quality of sleep you get. Due to the importance of sleep in an individual’s everyday life, sleep deprivation can result in dire consequences. Chronic sleep deprivation comes with an onslaught of health complications down the line, even things as serious as cardiovascular disease and obesity can result from not getting your proper bedtime rest.

It comes as no surprise that sleep deprivation can also drastically affect your mood. Most people have firsthand experience in what lack of sleep can do to a person’s behavior, either making them especially sensitive or irritant or just overall unmotivated and unproductive. Mental health is also closely related to the amount of sleep an individual gets, as a Harvard Medical School article notes the correlation between the presence of mental health problems with that of insomnia or other sleep related disorders. Sleep deprivation can also increase the risk of developing depression, as a study of 1000 adults shows that individuals who reportedly had a history of insomnia were four times as likely to develop depression down the line. Evidently, not only does sleep affect our body functions, but mental functions as well.

Sleep deprivation is notably very present among teenagers and students. Stanford medicine even goes as far as describing sleep deprivation as an “epidemic among teens”, making teens more susceptible to negative side effects such as the inability to concentrate in school, drowsy-driving incidents, and bad grades. This can partly be attributed to the biology of adolescents, as the body naturally pushes back the circadian rhythms of adolescents as they approach adulthood. Teenagers are supposed to get around 9 to 10 hours of sleep a day, but the amount of teenagers who actually get this amount of sleep is a rarity. On average, teens only get around 7 hours of sleep per day, with many reporting as little as 5 or 6 hours of sleep. 

So as we all know by now, sleep is vital to living your life. If you find that you are suffering from lack of sleep, it is important that you make the proper lifestyle changes to ensure that you are getting a proper bedtime rest every night. Things such as sticking to a sleep schedule or even exercising daily can help contribute to getting a better night’s rest. As stressful as school can be, it’s important to take care of yourself and make sure that your body is getting the rest it needs to help sustain you not only for the next day, but for your future as well.

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