Tips to combat sleep deprivation in teens

Most teens are not sleeping enough, negatively affecting grades and overall routine

With finals quickly approaching, the lives of the majority of Palo Alto High School students get much busier, with more schoolwork and extracurriculars. When more time is needed for other work, the first thing to usually get cut is sleep. If this happens to be the case for you, you are certainly not alone.

In a study published in the “Journal of Adolescent Health,” up to two-thirds of high school students get seven or less hours of sleep a night, which is two hours less than the  agreed upon target of roughly nine hours per night for teenagers.

Because November is National Sleep Comfort Month and December finals are coming up, here are some reasons why you should be prioritizing your sleep and how to do so.

1. Put away your electronics

We all know it is difficult to do, and especially challenging with homework, but try to stay away from your phone and computer for at least an hour before you go to bed.

According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), this results in better quality sleep, and the lack of distractions will help you finish your homework faster.

If possible, try to finish any homework that you need to use your computer for earlier in the afternoon, and save other homework, like reading, for later in the night.

2. Take a nap

Naps are not always a waste of time in the middle of the afternoon. According to the NSF, naps can be beneficial to your overall sleep patterns for the day. These naps can even help you be more productive with your schoolwork later in the afternoon, as you are more rested and can focus more easily. Aim to take a short nap in the early afternoon if you need to, so as not to disrupt with your ability to fall asleep later that night.

3. Avoid caffeine later in the day

Coffee can be helpful for waking up in the morning, especially if you did not get enough sleep the night before.

However, to keep the lack of sleep from becoming a pattern later in the day, avoid any caffeine after the early afternoon.

According to the NSF, stimulants such as caffeine can greatly disrupt your sleep cycle and make it difficult to get quality sleep.

4. Prioritize sleep over studying

Of course it is important to study for those huge tests, but at some point, it is time to stop. Once it has gotten to be around midnight the night before the test, it is more important to sleep than to cram in that last bit of studying.

The amount of sleep you get the night before a test affects your performance on the test, and according to the NSF, you’re better off getting more sleep the night before test rather than cramming in more studying.

So even if you don’t feel fully prepared for a test the next day, it is better to just go to bed rather than lose sleep studying.Though sometimes cutting back on sleep to make more time for schoolwork is inevitable, it is important to realize the effect that a repeated lack of sleep has on schoolwork and life in general, and how to try to prevent it becoming a bad habit.

By making an effort to minimize the time spent on electronics immediately before going to sleep, taking a nap in the early afternoon, avoiding caffeine late in the day and making time for sleep instead of more studying, it is possible to strike a better balance between sleep and other aspects in school and life.