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The Need for Sleep

Sleep is an Important part of life.

Getting enough sleep at night is a struggle for teenagers and adolescents. Believe me, I know. There have definitely been many nights when I have stayed up way later than I should have been and ended up really paying for it the next day. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), in 2015, 6 out of 10 middle school students were getting less than nine hours of sleep on school nights (the recommended amount for 6-12 year olds is 9 to 12 hours a night according to the CDC) and 7 out of 10 high school students were getting less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights (the recommended amount of sleep for 13-18 year olds is 8 to 10 hours a night according to the CDC). A Healthline article called “Is Your Teen Getting Enough Sleep? 73% Don’t. Here’s Why” by Leah Campbell stated that in a study from 2018, 73 percent of high school students failed to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep a night. As teenagers though, we think we can keep getting away with this by chugging some coffee in the morning or just powering through. I know that’s what I thought. But unfortunately our lack of sleep ends up coming back to hurt us in many different ways, especially mentally and emotionally.

Part of the reason teenagers get less sleep is because of our biology. That’s right, our own bodies are against us getting a good night’s sleep. Firstly, a Sleep Foundation article called “Teens and Sleep” by Eric Suni and medically reviewed by Alex Dimitriu, board-certified psychiatrist and founder of Menlo Park Psychiatry and Sleep Medicine, said that teens’ sleep drive functions slower, meaning we start to want to sleep later in the night, and teens’ bodies take longer to produce melatonin, the hormone that helps people sleep. According to a Stanford Medicine article called “Among teens, sleep deprivation is an epidemic” by Ruthann Richter, researchers at Stanford University found that as children in their study got older, they were more likely to sleep later and teens were found to experience a sleep-phase delay. Basically, our circadian rhythms start operating on a time schedule that has teenagers going to sleep later, making it harder for teens to sleep prior to 11pm. And with school starting around 8am or 9am, teenagers have to wake up early to get to school and sacrifice getting 8 or 9 hours of sleep. Our biology has stacked the deck against us as far as getting enough sleep goes.

Our environment also contributes to our sleep deprivation. One of the main reasons teens do not get enough sleep is school. Many teenagers, including myself, are juggling crushing workloads and multiple extracurricular activities. I have spent many nights staying up late studying for tests or finishing projects after coming home late from a club meeting. We want to succeed in life and get into good colleges so finishing up work often take priority over the need for sleep in many teens’ minds, including my own. Another factor contributing to teens’ lack of sleep is our screen time. I know I am guilty of wasting way too much time on my phone and laptop binging TV shows at night as a way to decompress after the stress of school, family, etc. The pull of social media, TV, games, etc. on devices can lead to teenagers sacrificing even more of their nighttime. The Sleep Foundation article by Suni and reviewed by Dimitriu also said that a 2014 Sleep in America Poll reported that 89% or more teens have at minimum one device in their bedroom at night. The article also stated that using devices at night keeps teens’ brains up and new notifications can contribute to a lower quality of sleep while the light from cell phone may lower melatonin production. The Stanford medicine article by Richter adds that lit screens signal to the part of the brain monitoring our circadian clock that it isn’t night or time to sleep yet.
While there are many negative effects of not getting enough sleep, I am going to mainly focus on the mental and emotional effects. Not getting enough sleep can contribute to teens’ lack of an ability to self-control our emotions, impulses, and mood. Teenagers already have a har enough time disciplining ourselves since our brains aren’t fully developed and sleep just adds to the issue. An article by the Child Mind Institute called “Teens and Sleep: The Cost of Sleep Deprivation” by Juliann Garey reported that Ryan C. Meldrum, PhD and assistant professor in the Department of Criminal Justice at Florida International University, discovered an association between sleeping less each night, late bedtimes, and a lower quality of sleep and aggression, impulsivity, and short tempers. By getting more sleep, teens are likely to be better equipped at making rational, practical decisions. Getting less sleep is also associated with depression and anxiety. An article by Newport Academy called “Why Mental Health Suffers in Sleep-Deprived Teens” reported that a study of around 28,000 high school students found that each lost hour of sleep was associated with a 38% increase in the chances of feeling sad or without hope and a 58% increase in suicide attempts. It is important we get sleep so we are more likely to feel like our best, happier selves every day. The Newport Academy article also reported that the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse statistics reveal that high school students sleeping for less than 8 hours a night were much more likely to drink alcohol , be marijuana users, and use illegal drugs throughout their lives and another 2015 study discovered that sleep deprivation is associated with binge drinking, driving under the influence of alcohol, and unprotected sex. Teenagers have their whole lives ahead of them and are full of so much potential. It is important we try to protect our futures by getting as much sleep as possible, preferably at least 8 hours a night, in order to reduce our chances of participating in activities that could derail the course of our lives forever. The Child Mind Institute article by Garey also said that doctors are worried extreme lack of sleep could trigger depression in teens that are predisposed to depression or harm teens that are predisposed towards mood disorders. Sleep deprivation could have potentially devastating effects on teens that are already at more of a risk of suffering from mental illnesses.

I know everything I have said so far makes it seem like it is almost impossible for teens to get the right amount of sleep each night and avoid some pretty harmful effects. However, there are steps teenagers and their families can take to get on a better sleep schedule. A Child Mind Institute called “How to Help Teenagers Get More Sleep” by Juliann Garey and the Newport Academy article recommend various techniques on sleeping for longer. First off, teens need to understand the importance of getting more sleep. If you and your family aren’t willing to make the effort to get more sleep, it makes it much harder to actually achieve that goal and have a healthier life. Also, it’s important to involve parents in the process. Parents can help set restrictions on bedtimes, screen time, and study time. I know it sucks sometimes to ask your parents for help but it’s a necessary step. Doing everything by yourself will make getting more sleep a difficult process, especially since it’s hard to regulate yourself. I know I probably wouldn’t be able to put down my study materials or my phone without reminders from my parents. It’s also important to not use electronic devices an hours before bed since as mentioned above, the blue light from devices can help keep teenagers up. Teens can create a schedule where they do homework that requires electronic devices first or where they allot time after doing studying to use electronic devices before turning them off an hour before bed. Teens can also simplify their schedules. I know cutting out activities or choosing to go to bed instead of studying for more time can be really tough, especially when thinking about college, but it’s important that we take care of ourselves. Our health comes first and it’s not worth it to make ourselves miserable. There are still ways to get to college or wherever you want to go without sacrificing your personal mental and emotional health. Also, not getting enough sleep can actually hurt students’ academic performances. Teenagers can make schedules for themselves to maximize their productivity and give themselves enough time to sleep rather than staying up really late to finish all their work. It’s also important to exercise during the day instead of at night before bed. Having a relaxing bedtime routine that may involve something like writing in a journal can also help teenagers fall asleep. It is important to not eat late-night snacks that can affect blood sugar. I love eating late night snacks too, but the fact is that it isn’t good for us. Yoga and meditation can also help teens relax enough to fall asleep. Dark, cool rooms are best for sleeping.

I know making these changes is easier said than done. I have struggled to do it in my own life. But it is important we try to help our mental, emotional, and physical health. We are supposed to be enjoying our teenage years but we won’t be able to without getting enough sleep. Getting sleep needs to be a priority in our lives since sleep deprivation affects every part of teenagers’ lives. So good luck to everyone trying to adopt better sleeping habits. I know I’ll need it.

Some Types of Anxiety Disorders

Generalized Anxiety Disorder: According to the American Psychiatric Association, generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) entails ongoing and excessive worry that disrupts daily activities. The persistent worry and anxiety comes with physical symptoms, including restlessness, feeling on edge or easily tired, having a hard time concentrating, muscle tension, or issues sleeping. The worries often have to do with everyday things, including job obligations, family health or small issues like chores, car repairs, or appointments.

Panic Disorder: Cleveland Clinic explains that panic disorder involves getting intense, sudden panic attacks. These panic attacks involve stronger, more intense feelings compared to other types of anxiety disorders. The feelings of fear may begin suddenly and without warning or may be caused by some trigger, such as a situation the person does not like. Panic attacks seem like heart attacks. If you feel you are experiencing a heart attack, go to the emergency room since it is better to be cautious by seeing a doctor. In a panic attack, a person may go through sweating, heart palpitations (the person feels like their heart is pounding), chest pain, a feeling of choking that may seem like a heart attack or “going crazy.” Panic attacks are incredibly disconcerting and people with panic disorder are usually spending a large amount of time worrying about the next panic attack. They also may attempt to avoid things that can cause an attack.

Phobias and Specific Phobias: Cleveland Clinic says that phobias are strong fear of certain situations or objects. Some fears may seem logical, like fear of snakes, but usually, the level of fear is not proportionate. People may take a large amount of time trying to avoid situations that can trigger the phobia. Specific phobias are an intense fear of a specific object or situation that may lead someone to avoid everyday situations. The object and situation may not be harmful as the American Psychiatric Association explains. The person may know the fear is excessive but they can not control it. Some specific phobias are fear of animals (spiders, dogs, snakes, etc.), blood, flying, heights, and injections.

Social Anxiety Disorder: Cleveland Clinic and the American Psychiatric Association state that this used to be known as social phobia. Social anxiety disorder involves excessive worry and self-consciousness with daily social interactions or extreme anxiety and discomfort about being embarrassed, humiliated, rejected, or disrespected in social interactions. The person is worried others will judge them and they are anxious they will embarrass themselves or be ridiculed. People with social anxiety disorder may completely avoid social situations or go through them with extreme anxiety. The fear or anxiety causes issues with daily functioning and goes on for at least 6 months. Some common fears are fear of public speaking, interacting with new people, or eating or drinking in public.

Agoraphobia: Cleveland Clinic says that if someone has agoraphobia, it often involves having an intense fear of being overwhelmed or not being able to access help. The person usually has a fear of two or more of the following environments: enclosed spaces, lines or crowds, open spaces, places outside the home, and public transportation. In extreme situations, people with agoraphobia may not leave the house ever since they are scared of experiencing a panic attack in public where they may not be able to leave or reach help, so they would rather stay inside.

Separation Anxiety Disorder: Cleveland Clinic and the American Psychiatric Association say, separation anxiety disorder often occurs in children or teens that may be nervous about being away from their parents. Children with separation anxiety disorder may be scared that their parents will get hurt somehow or not return like they promise. This occurs in preschoolers often but older children and adults that go through a stressful event can have separation anxiety disorder too. The person is overly nervous of scared about being separated from the people they are attached to, and the feeling is excessive for what is appropriate for the person’s age, continues, and causes issues in functioning. The person may not want to go out or sleep away from home or without the person they are attached to, or may have nightmares about being separated.

Selective mutism: Mayo Clinic explains that selective mutism is a persisting failure of children to speak or talk in specific situations, like in school, even if they can speak in other situations, like at home or with family. This can disrupt school, work, and functioning in public or with others.


Substance-induced Anxiety Disorder: Mayo Clinic states that substance-induced anxiety disorder has symptoms of intense anxiety or panic that are caused by misusing drugs, taking medications, coming into contact with a toxic substance, or withdrawal from drugs.

Anxiety Disorder Because of A Medical Condition: Mayo Clinic says this anxiety disorder has symptoms of strong anxiety or panic that is caused by a physical health issue.

Causes of Anxiety Disorders

Like Cleveland Clinic explains, anxiety disorders are not caused by personal weakness, character flaws, or issues with how you were raised. Researchers are not entirely sure as to what causes anxiety disorders. It may be a combination of factors, such as chemical imbalance, environmental factors, and heredity. Chemical imbalance refers to how extreme or chronic stress can change the chemical balance that regulates mood. Going though a large amount of stress for a long time can cause an anxiety disorder. Some environmental factors are going though a trauma that might cause an anxiety disorder, particularly in a person that has inherited a higher risk to begin with. Anxiety disorders may also run in families and you may inherit them from your parents. Mayo Clinic also says that stress because of an illness or worrying because of a health condition or serious illness may increase someone’s risk of having an anxiety disorder. Another risk factor is when a large event or a combination of small stressful life events may cause excessive anxiety. People with particular personality types are also more at risk of anxiety disorders. People that have other mental health disorders, such as depression, may have an anxiety disorder too. Drug or alcohol use or abuse and withdrawal may make anxiety worse.

Cleveland Clinic explains how if you have symptoms of an anxiety disorder, it is important to discuss them with a healthcare provider, who will likely get a full medical history and physical examination. They may do some lab tests or scans to rule out physical conditions that may cause the symptoms. A psychiatrist, psychologist, or other mental health professional are trained in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses. They may use specifically designed interviews and assessment tool to determine whether or not you have an anxiety disorder. Mental health professionals often use your reported symptoms, the impact of your symptoms on your life, and their observation of your attitude and behavior to make a diagnosis. It is important to get treatment if you feel you have an anxiety disorder. There is no shame in getting help and it is better to try to treat anxiety early on before it gets worse.


Cleveland Clinic and the American Psychiatric Association say that most anxiety disorders are treatment with psychotherapy or “talk therapy,” and medications. Some people may be given both or just one. Cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) is a type to talk therapy where a person learns a different way of thinking, reacting, and behaving to lower anxiety levels. A person identifies thought patterns and behavior that cause troublesome feelings so the person can try to change them. Exposure therapy concentrates on handling the fears behind an anxiety disorder. It helps a person interact with activities or situations that the person is avoiding, relaxation exercises and imagery may be used with this therapy. Medications won’t cure anxiety disorders but can help give relief from symptoms. Anti-anxiety medications are often used and prescribed for a short time and antidepressants may be used. Beta-blockers may be used to regulate physical symptoms. People can also take action on their own. For instance, stress management techniques and meditation can help. Support groups can allow people to share their experience and different coping strategies. Getting information on details of a disorder and assisting family and friends in understanding a condition more can help. It is good to avoid caffeine, which can exacerbate symptoms, and talk to a doctor about medication. Again, it is important to seek treatment rather than just trying to handle a disorder on your own since mental health professionals can help you.

Help your child understand the concept of time by saying what time it is during routine activities. Use and explain words like morning, noon, night, yesterday, today, and tomorrow. Make a timeline together showing a typical day, with drawings of regular events and the time of day written beneath each one.


1. “Anxiety Disorders.” Mayo Clinic, Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, 4 May 2018,

2. “Anxiety Disorders: Types, Causes, Symptoms & Treatments.” Cleveland Clinic,

3. “What Are Anxiety Disorders?” – What Are Anxiety Disorders?,