Sleep is exceptionally important to life. It’s as necessary as breathing or eating. The technological advances of society, such as light, have brought much in improvement for society, but it’s also come at the consequence of our health. For instance, the advent of artificial light has altered the human circadian rhythm so that humans go to sleep at later times in the night. While sleep deprivation is a problem that many adults experience (about one-third of adults in the US according to the US Centers for Disease Control), teenagers experience sleep deprivation on a whole other level. The National Sleep Foundation cites research that more than 85 percent of teenagers get less than the recommended nightly eight hours of sleep. It’s unfortunate that many teenagers today, for a variety of reasons, don’t get the amount of sleep that they need in order to live healthy lives. As part of the course Analyzing Data with Python, I’ve chosen to study teen sleep habits at my school.

Out of 40 students from grades 9 to 12 at my high school asked, 34 responded. A significant number of those students reported that they didn’t get enough sleep. Teenagers until age 18 need eight to nine and one-half hours of sleep per night. Over 96 per cent of respondents experience sleep deprivation to some extent. Seventy-nine percent of students reported getting less than seven hours of sleep, which is severe sleep deprivation. Eighteen percent of respondents reported getting seven hours or more of sleep, but less than eight hours, which is still not enough sleep for teenagers. This indicates that ninety-six percent of students suffered from sleep deprivation! While the figure cited from the National Sleep Foundation was astounding, the fact that sleep deprivation is even more epidemic at my school is a serious concern.

I think that the teenage years are particularly difficult one in terms of sleep. As the generation to be the first to grow up with the computer and smartphones, this generation has been exposed to a constant onslaught of information. Further, this generation has been subjected to the effects of using smartphones in bed, namely an adjustment of the circadian rhythm that occurs due to the brain’s confusion of the light from the smartphone. This adjustment compounds the already delayed circadian rhythm that teenagers experience as a natural part of development. But there’s also problems arising from the way that teens live their lives in general. That is to say, the societal expectations that teenagers experience also play a factor in the epidemic that is sleep deprivation.

More than ever, life has become more hectic for everyone. And, this has certainly extended to teenagers as well. With the heightened presence of college admissions around the corner, many teenagers try to become “all-rounded” individuals and consequently extend themselves so that they can achieve higher. This is particularly noticeable when it comes time for tests: many students will attempt to pull long study sessions in the hopes of achieving a higher level of content mastery. However, perhaps these long study sessions are not in the best interest of students. While it may seem beneficial to study in order to achieve a higher score on a test, it is very important to note the significant effects that sleep deprivation has on teens’ health. Compounding this problem is the significant number of schools that begin school at times earlier than 08:30 as shown below.

In a 2006 poll from the National Sleep Foundation, 73% of the surveyed adolescents who reported feeling “unhappy, sad, or depressed also report[ed] not getting enough sleep at night and being excessively sleepy during the day”. Beyond mood, teenage sleep deprivation has the ability to impact many other people. Sleep deprived teen drivers tend to practice riskier behavior when driving. In fact, the National Sleep Foundation has compared driving when sleep deprived to driving with a 0.08% BAC! And, teens that are sleep deprived tend to practice unprotected sex more frequently than those who are not. Sleep deprivation can affect more than just yourself.

Thank you for taking the time to read through my article. I hope that you have become more informed about the epidemic that is teen sleep deprivation and are motivated to improve your sleep habits. I’d like to share with you what I call the streak chart. Based on the principle that it takes two weeks of consecutive action in order to solidify a habit, the streak chart encourages people to develop sustainable sleeping habits and to take notes regarding sleep if the need arises to see a doctor. Aside from personal habits, I encourage you to encourage your school to push school start times later. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that middle and high schools start at 08:30, but most schools in the United States start before this time. And finally, if someone ever tells you about an all-nighter that they pulled, try telling them how good it feels to get a full night’s sleep. Godspeed to you in the journey that is achieving better health.

Naoya Okamoto

Websites that I’ve referenced

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  1. April 27, 2018 by Hannah Anderson

    This project is really interesting! I liked the usage of data from your school, and it’s sad at how little sleep teenagers are getting everyday. The streak chart looks really helpful, and I may start using it. How does artificial light affect the sleep cycle? Great Job!

    • April 30, 2018 by Naoya.Okamoto

      Thanks, Hannah! Melatonin is a hormone which helps regulate sleep. It’s produced in the hypothalamus depending on whether it’s day or night, which your brain tells based on the presence of light. Artificial light confuses your brain into thinking that it’s still day, which suppresses the production of melatonin and makes it more difficult to sleep.

  2. April 27, 2018 by Alison Selman

    I really liked this article and that data visualizations. The numbers at my school resemble those at yours, I am sure. Very interesting (and scary) about the driving!

  3. April 28, 2018 by Edward.Rees

    I think this is a really important article and paper. Technology is advancing at such a rate, but we can’t keep up. For many, it takes a lot to disconnect for the night and go to sleep. Having discussed this issue with other students, teachers, and some of the administration at my school, it’s clear something needs to be done about sleep. I think your article really covered how technology affects our sleep, I think another aspect also goes to the stress levels of students impacting their sleep. Regardless, well done with your article!

  4. April 28, 2018 by BBracker

    While it is absolutely that academic and extracurricular commitment itself puts a demanding strain on our lives, permit me to take a moment of honesty to say that procrastination plays about an equal if not greater role in impacting my own sleep habits.

  5. April 28, 2018 by Nakul.Bajaj

    Do you think schools should start later instead, considering it’s been shown with research that teenagers tend to have sleep cycles that start and end later than when they are younger?

  6. April 28, 2018 by Isabella.Flerlage

    You did a great job gathering useful facts and information to the project as well as the visuals along with the words were great. A few questions I had are what are some solutions you may have for this problem of lack of sleep? What is a good time for our minds to be awake and for school to start? What changes would you like to see in teens who dont get the right amount of sleep?

  7. April 29, 2018 by Esther Bedoyan

    I really found your article interesting. Considering how I often find myself not getting enough sleep, it was very interesting to hear how the lifestyle of the average teenager has changed, which contributes to our lack of sleep. I thought it was great how you did a survey of your own school to see how much sleep your peers got, and I’m guessing that if most of us conducting similar suveys, we would collect similar data. Good job!

  8. April 29, 2018 by Anne.Ballard

    This was super informative! I can completely relate, in that I often find myself getting fewer than 6 hours of sleep. I completely agree that smart phones and especially feeling the need to well rounded compete with the hours of sleep I get. My school starts at 8:30 which I actually find really nice, but I was wondering if there are any other solutions for this problem! Great project!

  9. April 29, 2018 by Jimmy Chen

    Very relatable article. Personally having 6 hours of sleep at night is on my high end, although I do sleep more during the day and it is mostly my own choice to sleep late.

  10. April 29, 2018 by Jason Chen

    Wow, I really need sleep…

  11. April 29, 2018 by Grace.Arribas

    Wow! I need more sleep hahah! I am one of those people who sleeps less than 7 hours. Your project reminded me that it is important to get a good nights rest. You did a great job with your graphics and i like how you did your signature at the end, It makes it personal! Your project had lots of info that i have never heard of and i am thoroughly impressed!

  12. April 29, 2018 by Claudia Pinilla

    I feel like the answers at my school for how much sleep students got each night would be the same. I know that I sleep less than 7 hours probably everyday. Many things keep us awake such as homework, our phones, and not going to lie…netfilx. A good solution for this would be starting school at 8:30 instead of 7:45. Even though it would only give us 45 more minutes of sleep, I feel like this could be very useful.

  13. April 29, 2018 by Saanya Kapasi

    Wonderful use of information and real-world applications in this presentation! I definitely know I need to improve my sleep habits, especially as I approach junior year with all those AP classes. I’m very fortunate that my school starts at 8:30am and every Wednesday, we have a late start at 9:00am to help us get more sleep or get some extra homework done. Thank you so much for that streak chart, I’m very excited to start using that and improve my habits!

  14. April 29, 2018 by Rianna.Batra

    Looking through the conference, not one post have I seen about sleep even though it is probably the most important issue out there! You hear sickness being cured by giving the body time to sleep. So I am really glad you took it upon yourself to educate us about it! Amazing 🙂

  15. April 29, 2018 by izzy horio

    i had no idea that getting less than 7 hours of sleep is considered severe sleep deprivation. i know several of my friends who get 5 hours of sleep MAXIMUM every school night, and i know that that’s not good, but they function all right during school, but after reading this page, i realize that it’s actually really really bad. school is important and all, but how can kids get enough sleep every night while doing homework, extracurriculars, and have some free time to themselves?

  16. April 29, 2018 by Melle.Koper

    Super interesting, as someone who doesn’t get enough sleep I can really relate with the article.

  17. April 29, 2018 by Justin.Chen

    I rarely get enough sleep during most school days, and this article proves that I am severely sleep deprived. I know many peers who get even less sleep and have trouble throughout the day. Your article is very inciteful and has amazing data visuals. Great website!

  18. April 30, 2018 by Huy Tran

    Always stay up until 3am on week days. I need to get more sleep from now on. Great article and data analysis.

  19. April 30, 2018 by Maddie Koo

    Hey Naoya! I know in my school our counselors give announcements, presentations, and teach us in the mandatory classes we have a few times a year the importance of sleep, yet we still don’t get enough sleep. I would say the poll you had for your school shares similar results in my school as well. I have been getting 6 hours at least for almost this whole year which is obviously terrible, so what are ways in which we can try to change the amount of hours we get a night? Reduce homework, shorten school, any ideas you have? Also, I printed your chart, nice idea and overall great job!

  20. April 30, 2018 by Peter.Wess

    Not gonna lie, I feel that I do not have the best sleep schedule, however it was worse last year. I was very busy playing lacrosse last year and I was the kid who always had to get their homework done before I went to bed. This year I have built up to where I do homework until I feel too tired to continue and just deal with the consequences or just do it before class. This may not bee the best approach, but I do feel better. I have a question for you: How come sometimes when we get a lot of sleep we feel more tired than if we had had less? I feel that when I get 11 or more hours of sleep I tend to be more tired than if I had less.

  21. April 30, 2018 by Eden

    I knew that teenagers don’t sleep as much as they should but I had no idea that it was more than 85% of us who don’t sleep enough! Looking at how many hours I sleep a night it is clear that I do not sleep enough. Right now it is 10:26 pm and I will wake up at 6:30 for school. Which means that right now if I were to go to sleep I would be getting 8 hours of sleep, however, there is no way that I am able to fall asleep in 4 minutes… My own project was on the rise of social media so I know much more people are spending online as time evolves. If the poll was taken in 2006, I cannot imagine what the numbers would be now that there is a significant increase of social media platforms and the amount of users online. I printed out the streak worksheet and am going to try to do it over the next 2 weeks. Maybe I can get myself to sleep some more! One thing that I am interested about is whether or not the “sleep-mode” on your phone is actually better than the originally/normal light. I am sure that it is still best to not be online/ using technology before bed but is there any significance to changing that light?

  22. April 30, 2018 by Olivia Lantz

    What first brought me to your presentation was the title, because I love sleep so much. I personally get over 8 hours of sleep simply because I get tension headaches otherwise, but I know so many people who get nowhere near 8 hours. This was super informative and shows me that I need to sleep forever and ever.

  23. April 30, 2018 by Ananth J Josyula

    Great work Naoya. At my school, we have a late start every Wednesday (midway through the week). Do you think such an initiative would help and should be implemented at more schools?

  24. April 30, 2018 by Cole.Biafore

    I can confidently say that I do not get enough sleep and it is much less than 7 hours per night. It was interesting reading about the side effects of not getting enough sleep but I think it will be difficult to change my schedule. Hopefully I have the motivation to go to bed earlier in college!

  25. April 30, 2018 by Elena Maria Vitale

    I totally agree, I’m one of the people that sleeps less than 7 hours every night, and this affects a lot my focusing in classes and my grades avarage. I would really like that my school started in the afternoon!

  26. April 30, 2018 by Audrey.Acken

    Very informative and relatable article. I liked your use of visuals to support the main points. Your article does a good job demonstrating how important sleep is in our lives, and I know that from now on I need to work on improving some of my sleep habits. Great job!

  27. April 30, 2018 by Tatum

    I think that this is a really important topic that you decided to dive into. I know that sleep is definitely also an issue at my school. I think that often times, teens don’t get enough sleep because of homework, after school activities, and also procrastination so it would be interesting to hear some possible ways to motivate yourself to get to bed earlier. Overall great job.

  28. April 30, 2018 by LemmeGetUhhhBorger

    Good Work! I like that you included data from your school. Do you think that by starting school later, people will go to bed later?

  29. April 30, 2018 by Madison.Collins

    I really like the two graphs that you have provided. They provide a lot of information about your topic.

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