Normal? It Shouldn’t Be.

Teens Sleeping Habits Questioned


Ana Serratos, staff

8 hours of sleep might sound like an unknown concept to most teenagers. In fact, sometimes getting even 5 hours of sleep is difficult. This may be caused by excessive amounts of homework, procrastinating, studying for a test, insomnia, stress, etc.

According to a study published in The Journal of Adolescent Health, about 8% of US high school students sleep the recommended hours. There are several factors that can explain the common sleep deprivation including biology, technology and societal expectations.

Besides hormonal changes, teenagers also experience changes in the production of melatonin, the sleep hormone. They tend to be in a different time zone than other people, which helps explain why they seem to be very awake at midnight, but somehow could sleep until 12 or 1pm.

Moreover, technology has dramatically contributed to the sleep deprivation in teens. Not only are Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok and YouTube distractions keeping teens up late, but also the light given off by electronic devices that is causing this. This light emitted is called blue light and when it hits receptors in the eye, those receptors send a signal to the brain that inhibits the production of melatonin, therefore preventing kids from feeling tired.

“Sometimes when I don’t have much homework but I end up staying late anyways because I’m on my phone,” says junior Johanna Diez.

Finally, homework seems to be the primary reason why teenagers go to sleep so late these days. Most of the time, a high school student would consider himself or herself lucky if they go to bed at 12:30. Parents are forced to be torn between making their kids go to sleep and encouraging them to finish their homework no matter of how long it takes.

“Most days I go to sleep at 1:00-1:30 and I think that as I get older this will only be later,” junior Victoria Avila said.

While it is true that many teens have a procrastination and time management problem, today’s culture values activity over sleep. It is encouraged to do a lot of extracurricular activities and service events and, unfortunately, there are not enough hours in a day to do all of these activities. Consequently, this causes a teenagers schedule to be overpacked, facilitating sleep deprivation.

“Volunteering, sports, tutoring, school all keep me extremely busy and it’s sometimes impossible to go sleep early,” junior Isabella Gonzalez said.

Given that half of American teens live with chronic sleep deprivation, it is critical that parents and teachers don’t fail to notice how much it affects their overall health. The sleep deprivation many young people experience should not be considered something normal. Instead, it is a problem that should be addressed.