What Really Happens When Teens and Children Don’t Get Enough Sleep….

By Ateesh Lath

When teens don’t get enough sleep, they can have a big problem with school performance and with their general well-being. Homework, extracurricular activities, and electronic devices can cause children to be distracted and not get enough sleep. When teens don’t get enough sleep they can find that they drift in and out of sleep during the school day.  It is a lot harder to focus at school.  Lack of sleep can also cause many things later in life, for these kids, including poor mental health, obesity, and type 2 diabetes. 

There are many reasons why children might not be getting enough sleep. One is because of COVID. Some people have to quarantine when someone is exposed; this can change the place where they sleep. The new lights, noises, and generally new ‘landscape’ can make it hard to fall asleep, because they are not used to it. Noisy siblings also might be closer or even in the same room. 

Another reason might be that things like phones and computers are real distractions. It might be a kid’s bedtime, but they might want to chat with their friends, play video games or watch videos. They might also be on their devices because of the homework load. If kids have a lot of homework, then they might have to stay up until later to finish. This can also cause a lot of sleep problems because school starts at a set time, so they can’t sleep in to make up for lost sleep. 

After school activities are also another cause of going to sleep later and getting less sleep. Sometimes there is also homework assigned during the after school activities which can add to the workload. These are some of the main reasons children aren’t getting enough sleep. 

Getting sleep can be difficult when school starts so early, high school starting at 7:15 AM. If a student was working on homework until quite late, then this is not a good time to have to get to school. This is especially true for teens with a later natural sleep cycle. “Adolescents and teens are unable to fall asleep as early as they used to. At bedtime, their bodies may be pushing them to stay up for several hours more.” (https://www.sciencenewsforstudents.org/article/explainer-teenage-body-clock) This means that some teenagers physically can’t go to sleep until later than other people,  but they still have to wake up around the same time to get to class on time.

Not getting enough sleep can also cause many problems later in life. The CDC says, “Children and adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher risk for many health problems, including obesity, type 2 diabetes, poor mental health, and injuries” and, “They are also more likely to have attention and behavior problems, which can contribute to poor academic performance in school.” (https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/sleep.htm) Later in life, not getting enough sleep can cause many problems. Many kids don’t even know about these problems, which is also a problem. 

After looking at all of this, I think it is quite obvious that sleeping is really important for adolescents and children. If kids don’t get enough sleep because of school work, after school curricular activities, or devices, then their performance in school will be of far lower quality; they will also have trouble focusing. We should care about this because of all the problems it can cause later in life, and the fact that it can obstruct one’s education. Most children might not even know about the problems and diseases that can happen later in life to people who do not get enough sleep. This is why I think it is important for children to get enough sleep and learn about what can happen if they don’t.