21st century teenagers have worse anxiety than 1950s mental health patients – – sounds crazy right? The science behind it isn’t so far-fetched.
The amount of sleep a teenager gets a night directly influences their mental health. Every night, a person between the ages of 13-19 should be getting 9-10 hours of sleep. Because the school day starts at 8 am and the average teen has extracurriculars, work and homework to do after school, 85% of teenagers are falling under the 9-10 hour mark of sleep. All the deadlines and expectations matched with a lack of sleep are detrimental to a person’s mental health, let alone a malleable young person.
The connection between learning and school is lost; high schoolers are more focused on getting projects turned in than soaking up information. As I write this article, on 4.5 hours of sleep and a double shot of espresso, I can’t remember a single thing I learned in school this year. Despite having straight As, I opt out of sleeping to get my work done and maybe one day go to college.
The anxiety we see in teens somehow baffles adults even when shown the receipts. Let me refresh your memory: Sleep directly affects body stress, hormonal changes (as if we don’t have enough of those already?) and coping with stress and anxiety; not to mention that all of these symptoms of sleep deprivation also cause depression and paranoia.
Without a doubt, sleep deprivation and the mental health issues that come with it are detrimental to teenage growth. Please get at least 9 hours tonight, and respect your body’s natural clock. Even if you can’t finish that paper, your body will thank you for the rest.