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It’s time to hit the snooze button (Part- I)


Lavina, a teenager studying in a well-known school in the city, wakes up early every morning to join her classmates for tuitions. She hardly sleeps for more than six hours per night. Lavina often skips the opportunity to socialize or play with friends, in order to finish her academic work.
 
Lavina finds it difficult to squeeze out time from her schedule, to sleep. She finds herself in a phase where she is sleepy during her classes.  
 
Her mid-term exams are just round the corner; do you think she will be able to cope up with all this stress without getting hold of adequate sleep?
 
Is your student/child one of them?
 
Lavina’s case isn't the only one. School and college students represent one of the most sleep-deprived segments of our population. Academic commitments, sports, other extracurricular activities, and the urge to explore and socialize, deprive them of sleep. Attempting to study all night to finish off piled up homework or to study for the upcoming exams, can cause stress and anxiety. There can be numerous reasons why students are not able to sleep.
 
Scientific importance of sleep
 
Sleep is vital for a person’s well-being, as important as the air we breathe, the water we drink or the food we eat. Sleep functions as food for a tired brain after a hectic day. Many important body functions take place during sleep. Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night, to function their best. 
 
Sleep and Physical Health
Lack of sleep has direct and adverse impact on our physical health. It can:
 
  • Impact the immune system

Our ability to fight off infections becomes weak and we are more prone to attracting respiratory infections, such as cold and flu. Heart and lung functioning is adversely affected due to lack of sleep and is associated with high blood pressure.

  • Causes obesity

Lack of sleep is directly linked to obesity. Studies have shown that with sleep deprivation, there is an increase in certain hormones, which in turn result in increase in hunger and the need for high calorie foods. This leads to weight gain in many people.

  • Causes accidents

Lack of sleep deprives the brain from rest. This impacts the brain functioning, attention span, mood and reaction time. Sleeplessness is a leading cause of many road accidents, and surveys have demonstrated that many industrial accidents and disasters, such as nuclear power accidents, major oil spills and space shuttle disasters have been attributed to sleep deprived workers.

 

Sleep and Mental Health

One may not directly notice the aftermath of inadequate sleep on a mental level, but lack of sleep can gravely affect our mental health and a chain reaction can be witnessed on the physical health as well.
 
Sleep and Depression
 
Lack of sleep can throw the person in severe depression, some of the symptoms of which are: 
  • Insomnia – A person suffering from insomnia can sleep for only 6 hours or less every night.
  • Escape sleeping- In a condition like this, a person sleeps in excess- 10 hours or more every night.
  • Fatigue - Constantly wishing you were sleeping or napping, and carrying out day to day activities becomes highly tiring or burdening.
Sleep and Relationships
 
Lack of sleep can affect the person’s relationship and interaction with others. Some of its symptoms are:
  • The person finds it difficult to enjoy activities or spend time with family or friends in school.
  • An evident change in behaviour is seen when the person is quickly irritated or angry with what family members, friends or teachers say and end up picking up fights on trivial issues.  
Sleep and Academic Performance
 
When a student is deprived of good quality as well as quantity of sleep, it automatically reflects in a negative way in his/her academic performance. The student may:
  • Miss paper or project deadlines. Some students rely on last minute preparations to finish their homework or projects and hence, stay up all night. But doing this at the last moment can have severe repercussions.
  • Perform poorly in tests because, the ability to recall or concentrate sharply decreases when the person is sleep deprived.  
The result of these instances is that the student achieves lower grades or exhibits poor academic performance.                                                    (to be continued…)

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