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Sleep Deprived Students

Essay by   •  November 11, 2010  •  Research Paper  •  1,180 Words (5 Pages)  •  4,203 Views

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Near the end of a semester we see a lot of students cramming, trying to study for their final papers and exams that lurk around the corner. Deadlines and due dates are non-existent for students until the night before. Extracurricular preoccupations such as partying and socializing can take away time from going to the library or participating in study sessions. Such activities expel more excitement than the adrenaline rush of a chemistry chronicle or a pre-calculus problem. Many of them do not realize that the lack of sleep and fatigue will actually limit their ability to concentrate and give the best of them during finals week.

The fact that we sleep approximately one third of our life may seem a waste of time, but sleep is a condition of survival. It is also a period of intense activity, full of bizarre and dramatic events. Sleep is as essential to us as air, food and water because it refreshes the body and prevents exhaustion. According to William Dement, one of the founders of modern sleep medicine, author of article "Sleep Debt and the Mortgaged Mind", "the feeling of being tired and needing sleep is a basic drive of nature, like hunger" we are driven to sleep and if we go long enough without rest, we can think of nothing else (539).

Although the importance of sleep is often discussed, scientists still do not know exactly why it is so important for our survival. Human beings, plants, and animals, we all have a biological clock that tells us when to eat, drink, sleep or wake up. In our century, everything is going with an amazing speed and students are struggling to cope with this speed and sleep is often neglected because of the busy daily schedules, which include working, studying, and socializing.

The amount of sleep we need each day varies through life. An infant sleeps in rounds of one or two hours, and then wakes up hungry and restless. Overall he sleeps about 16 hours a day. As the baby grows, he will sleep longer periods at night and less during the day. At the age of three or four, most children sleep at least 12 uninterrupted hours per night, and most of them take an afternoon nap. A teenager normally sleeps ten hours a night and an adult sleeps around eight hours a night. The amount of sleep a person needs depends on many factors, such as, the activity, the workload and stress during the day, and habits acquired over the life.

Seeing the importance of sleep in human life, we ask ourselves how sleep can influence a student's life. Mary A. Carskadon, a professor of psychiatry and human behavior, showed us in "When Worlds Collide", "that the need for sleep does not change across adolescent development". In fact, the "older teenagers may need more sleep than when they were younger" (528). During the maturation process, adolescents tend to go to bed later and wake up later. This happens because of growing academic demands, increased social opportunities, and access in the bedroom to computers, televisions, and telephones. All these behavioral factors take away necessary time from sleep and adolescents are getting sleep deprived. In adults, such meager sleep allowances are known to affect day to day functioning in many ways. In adolescents, who are biologically driven to sleep longer and later than adults do, the effects of insufficient sleep are likely to be even more dramatic. When that happens the students experience memory lapses, attention deficits, depressed mood and slow reaction time. Insufficient sleep has also been shown to cause difficulties in school, including disciplinary problems, sleepiness in class and poor concentration (533).

Lack of sleep can lead to sleep disorders and health issues, including cardiovascular disease, obesity and depression. There are 84 known sleep disorders

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