The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

The student news site of Wilmington Friends School

The Whittier Miscellany

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Cracking The Code: The Science Behind Sleep

 

Whether you’re a night owl or an early rise, sleep is something every human needs to survive. But what’s the science behind sleep? Why do humans need sleep to survive?  Humans spend approximately ⅓ of their lives asleep, but what purpose does sleep serve?  Highschool teenagers average around 7 hours of sleep per night. Depending on the night, sometimes less or more. High school students have homework,  outside activities, jobs, and responsibilities that push back sleep schedules. Friends school nurse Kate Griest was asked: How does sleep impact our physical health? Can you give some examples? She responded with, “Sleep improves physical health. When you sleep, your body undergoes a repair process that helps you recover from illnesses, injuries/wounds, and everyday stresses. Sleep can also boost your immunity. Sleeping helps the different body systems whether it be the cardiovascular, muscular or digestive systems.” Without sleep, sports would be impossible! Even being consistent about what time one  goes to bed and wake up, it can still take a serious toll on our bodies. Without sleep our bodies wouldnt be able to function properly and our systems internally could shut down. Also, an article from Hopkins Medicine states that “Sleep is vital to the rest of the body too. When people don’t get enough sleep, their health risks rise. Symptoms of depression, seizures, high blood pressure and migraines worsen. Immunity is compromised, increasing the likelihood of illness and infection.” Bodies can get worn out easily, and sleep is another added stress to the things humans do daily. 

Nurse Kate was also asked to talk about sleep regarding mental health. She was asked: How does sleep affect our mental health? What are some common mental health problems associated with sleep deprivation? She responded, “Healthy amount of sleep can be beneficial to our mental health. It can be associated with a better mood, improved productivity and more satisfaction in our lives. Some mental health problems present as sleep-related issues. Some common mental health problems associated with sleep depriviation could include a person being more anxious or depressed, exacerbating any kind of underlying psychiatric symptoms, and even suicidal ideation.” Have you ever felt moody, tired, lazy or unable to retain any information you’ve learned in class? Lack of sleep could just be the answer. From nurse Kate, according to the The American Academy of Sleep Medicine, “they recommend 8-10 hours of sleep. When winding down for bed, students should avoid social media and electronics 30 minutes before bed, make your bedroom dark and quiet, stick to a sleep schedule, avoid heavy meals before bed, and be active during the day.” Being on a screen late at night can influence how quickly you can fall asleep. If you are also wondering or worrying about why you can’t stay asleep, technology could be a significant reason.  Nurse Kate was also asked two other important questions, the first one being, How does the science of sleep inform our understanding of the benefits of napping? Is it really a good idea to nap during the day? She responded, “Napping should be limited to less than 1 hour during the day and not too close to bedtime. It’s suggested the best length of a nap should be less than 30 minutes.  It could help fight daytime fatigue and improve productivity, alertness and mood.” She was also asked, How do sleep patterns change as we age? Are there any differences in sleep patterns between teenagers and adults? She responded, “According to the UCLA Health, there is a natural shift in a teen’s circadian rhythm called a “sleep phase delay” that sleep is delayed 2 hours. It’s also caused by hormones. It makes teenagers sleepier 1-2 hours later.” These facts prove that napping can cause oversleeping and teenagers go to bed later than their parents for example because of the delay in their circadian rhythm. 

Overall, sleep is important! Sleep deprivation is real and so is oversleeping. Nurse Kate provided strong and valid evidence and reasoning for why technology, school, academics, and emotional stability are all factors in getting a good night’s rest.  If you don’t go to sleep, things can get dark real quick, so it’s time to turn off the light!

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About the Contributor
Sarah Levenson, Staff Writer
Sarah Levenson is a senior writer for the Whittier Miscellany and has written for the newspaper for the past two years. Sarah likes to write about personal topics or arts and culture or science and tech. Sarah loves to write because it allows her to flourish and grow in her creative abilities. Sarah wants to inform the WFS community about new and upcoming trends or topics of conversation. Outside of Whittier, Sarah loves the beach, hanging with her friends and family, and playing tennis. 

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