The issue of American students not getting enough sleep is not treated with the severity it deserves. This needs to change.
The U.S. needs to update its educational standards to accommodate the scientifically proven biological needs people, especially adolescents, have for sleep. It needs to encourage students to get more sleep and possibly start school later. With more sleep we’re better prepared to handle the rigours of the educational system.
This idea may sound bizarre to many Americans. The U.S. has a tendency to glorify the action of doing of doing work for its own sake. One hundred and thirty-four countries have laws setting the maximum length of the work week; the U.S. does not. The American’s propensity for work reflects in our educational system where it’s typical for school policy to have it start around or just under 8 a.m. The American Medical Association and the American Academy of Pediatrics, propose that school should start at 8:30 a.m. or later, considering any less would be detrimental to students’ health. Sleep is needed for students to function throughout the day and stay healthy in general.
Sleep deprivation may not sound like a big deal to many people. Images of people being slightly cranky or absent minded would probably come to mind when people hear of the problem and brush it off as not a significant concern. But it is serious and its effects can and often do make a lot of people’s lives harder. Sleep deprivation can cause a myriad of negative health problems. “Long-term consequences of sleep disruption in otherwise healthy individuals include hypertension, dyslipidemia, cardiovascular disease, weight-related issues, metabolic syndrome, type 2 diabetes mellitus, and colorectal cancer,” said the National Bureau of Biotechnology.
The negative health effects lack of sleep can have on a person’s weight is especially troubling given the obesity epidemic plaguing the nation. The Center for Disease Control has classified insufficient sleep to be a public health epidemic.
Students are over stressed. Lack of sleep is a major contribution to this problem. When adults do not get enough sleep, 21 percent reported feeling more stressed. On average, teens reported sleeping far less than the recommended amount — 7.4 hours on school nights and 8.1 hours on non-school nights, compared with the 8.5 to 9.25 hours recommended by the National Sleep Foundation. “Nearly one in five teens (18 percent) said when they do not get enough sleep, they are more stressed and 36 percent of teens reported feeling tired because of stress in the past month,” said the APA recounting the finding of a survey about the stress levels of students and what causes it. Sleep is a vital component of life. It’s time the U.S starts treating it as such.