The Importance of Sleep


Pooja Shah, Editor-in-Chief


 As a high school student, who blearily walks into my first-hour class every day, I wonder about this quite often. How do I optimize my time in a way that I can do all the things I want to achieve in a day, and get enough sleep to function like a normal human being in the morning? Thus, here I went into the rabbit hole of YouTube videos with 4 am wake-up times, 2-hour sleep cycles, and learning how to perfectly plan my REM sleep cycle. But it still left me with the essential question, how much sleep do I need, and how important is sleeping in my day-to-day life?

Let’s start with some basic questions. How many hours should a person sleep each night? According to John Hopkins Medicine, the average teenager should be sleeping around 8-10 hours a night. The average adult should sleep about 7-9 hours per night. Getting too little or too much sleep can point to underlying health issues such as sleep apnea, type 2 diabetes, and heart disease. Stress, related to a job or school is the most common reason for short-term sleep problems and usually goes away once the stressor is removed (American Psychological Association).

Is there such a thing as a perfect sleep schedule? Dr. Colleen Lance of Cleveland Clinic emphasizes there’s no specific time to which one should fall asleep, but instead consistency is the key. This helps maintain our circadian rhythm, she explains, the part of our body dedicated to regulating sleep. This means falling asleep at the same time every night, and waking up at the same time is immensely important to keep a balanced sleep schedule. 

Why is it so important to get a specific amount of sleep a night? As the National Sleep Foundation puts it, it’s important to achieve five to six REM cycles each night. REM stands for Rapid Eye Movement and its equally important counterpart NREM stands for non-rapid eye movement. During this time frame, your body’s energy is renewed for the next day. Typically sleep cycles last 90 minutes, and the Foundation says that you will benefit from waking up at the end of a sleep cycle versus the middle of one thus the 7-9 hours. They elaborate saying, “REM sleep also helps to ensure better mental concentration and mood regulation, two things that are critical to both your daily work performance and overall quality of life.”

Sleep and Sleep Disorders are proving to be incredibly prevalent issues. The CDC cites that nearly 70 million Americans face chronic sleep disorders. In regards to high school students, a total of 77.9% report short durations of sleep in a CDC study conducted in 2019. Awareness about this topic is becoming more widespread, and the CDC recommends a few things you can do to try to maintain a healthy sleeping schedule. First, be consistent. The practice of setting a fixed sleeping schedule can be very beneficial. Second, try to remove electronic devices from your bedroom when sleeping. Finally, try to incorporate physical activity into your daily routine, and be conscious of what you’re eating before bed. 


Sleep is an important factor to remain successful in achieving your goals, so make sure to be mindful of your sleeping schedule and reach out for help when you need it.



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