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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Adolescent’s Academic Success

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The question that will be discussed is why the body needs sleep and what happens if someone is sleep deprived. The sources that were found discuss the necessary amount of sleep someone needs and why and if someone doesn’t get the necessary amount of sleep, what happens to them physically and mentally. It is also seen that Sleep Deprivation is becoming commonplace within society. This may be due to reasons such as the overuse of smartphones or other electronics, other committing to too many things such as academic success, sporting commitments, part-time work and others. This appears to be a contemporary issue as many people suffer from not getting enough sleep. There are serve physical and physiological effect if someone doesn’t get enough sleep (Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007).

Sleep is separated into two different systems; sleep/wake homeostasis and circadian biological clock. Whilst being awake for long periods of time, sleep/wake homeostasis tell us that a need for sleep is accumulating. Sleep/wake homeostasis also allows us to get an uninterrupted sleep throughout the night. This accepts that there is a line between being awake and being asleep and helps us balance those two. The circadian biological clock regulates the timing of sleeping or being awake. This circadian rhythm tends to rise and fall at different times of the day.

Positives of sleep and how it has a positive effect that it has physically and physiologically. Avoiding electronics before going to sleep helps the brain get ready to go to sleep and exercising before sleeping also helps use up energy. The reason that people need sleep is that the body and brain both need to recover from a long day. Cells build up connections in the brain that link to other previous cells from the experiences that a person had, had during the day. These connections that are connected are stronger than others and the weaker ones are removed. Sleep is being worked on currently and they have found something called Brain Plasticity. Brain Plasticity is correlated changes within the structure and organization of the brain (Division of Sleep Medicine, 2007).

REM or Rapid Eye Movement sleep is a deeper sleep in which a person may struggle to be woken up. On average an adolesces will rotate through REM sleep for approximately 70 to 100 minutes per 9 hours of sleep. These 70 to 100 minutes of REM sleep have been linked back to memory consolidation that occurs whilst sleeping. The reason for REM sleep cycling in this pattern is still unknown but is currently under research at Harvard Medical School. The rapid eye movements that happen whilst someone is in REM can somewhat be related to bizarre or extreme dreams. Studies from Harvard Medical School have shown that receiving REM sleep assists into receiving a decent sleep. Even without fully understanding what sleep does for us, we know that going without sleep for too long makes us perform poorly and that getting enough sleep can make us feel ready to perform academically. Scientists are currently attempting to fully understand what benefit’s sleep has. In studies of humans and other animals, they have discovered that sleep plays a critical role in immune function, metabolism, memory, learning, and other functions that are vital.

Not getting enough sleep affects the human body. Not getting enough sleep is common within adolescents. Sleep deprivation can be found within many age ranges and can have a large array of effects on different people. These effects can be phycological and physical. Physical effects that can be seen within a person who has sleep deprivation would be stumbling, feeling dizzy, loss of concentration and people can appear as if they are under the influence of alcohol. The phycological effects of people who suffer from sleep deprivation are slurring of words, struggle to interpret and process information, loss of short term and long-term memory and a loss of instinct. These effects can be very serious especially to people who work within the emergency department of a hospital. Many workers who work in this department often work long days and get minimal hours of sleep. This can make it especially hard for them to keep a focus and make decisions that could ultimately save someone’s life. Short- and long-term memory loss can also affect someone within an emergency department of a hospital because doctors and nurses need to make quick decisions based on their memory.

Exposure to blue-light wave lengths from smartphones, television or videos games can have serve effects on the circadian biological clock. The circadian biological clock is determined by the amount of natural light the body is exposed to. When there is artificial light introduced into a human’s day, the circadian biological clock begins to be confused. Blue light wave lengths have been predominantly used to boost attention, reaction times and moods. According to a study conducted at Harvard Medical School although blue light wave lengths are helpful during the day, there can be serve consequences during the night. A survey was conducted in which 14-17-year old’s were asked how much sleep they get each night. These results show that each a student will get at least 7-5 hours of sleep per night. This allows an insight into how sleep is can affect academic success. 6 of the 13 responses stated that they believe that their lack of sleep has a direct effect on their academic success. Also, 9 responses admit to using electronics before going to sleep.

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Being deprived of REM sleep heavily effects an adolescence’s memory. This can be extremely worrying as most adolescences are in school and are taking in large amounts of important information. This may have an extreme impact on an adolescent’s academic achievements. Studies have shown that being deprived of REM sleep also has links to health issues such as migraines and cardiovascular disease. These studies have also shown that a lack of REM sleep can be linked to depression. Sleep deprivation can noticeably affect people's performance, including their ability to think, react quickly and remember memories. 33 Sleep deprivation also affects a person mood, leading to irritability; problems with relationships, especially for children and teenagers; and depression. Sleep deprivation can also increase anxiety. Sleep is important for overall health, and inadequate sleep is associated with numerous health problems.

Research has shown that not getting enough sleep, or getting interrupted sleep, increases the risk of high blood pressure, heart disease, obesity, and diabetes. Sleep deprivation can also be very dangerous. Sleep-deprived people who were tested using a driving simulator or performing hand-eye coordination tasks did as badly as, or worse than, people who were intoxicated. Drowsy driving causes thousands of cars crashes each year, some of them fatal. Sleep deprivation magnifies the effect of alcohol on the body. A fatigued person who drinks will be more impaired than a well-rested person.

Neuroimaging evidence has implicated the prefrontal cortex as a brain region that may be particularly susceptible to the effects of sleep loss. This is due to the prefrontal cortex control behaviors such as personality development, maturing and decision making. This can be particularly harmful to adolescents as they are continually developing and growing. This can be linked to sleep deprivation as the prefrontal cortex will continue to grow until age 25. This means that if adolescents are suffering from sleep deprivation, their prefrontal cortex misses vital growing time. Sleep fragmentation is similar to sleep deprivation but isn’t completely the same.

Sleep fragmentation is stated as “brief arousals that occur during a sleep period”. These arousals do not naturally occur and are happen due to abnormal sleeping cycles. These sleeping cycles are directly affected by insomnia. Sleep fragmentation isn’t only just unsatisfying sleep; it is also linked to serious health issues such as weight gaining, mood problems, and excessive sleepiness throughout the day. This can be especially harmful to adolescents as this can directly affect their academic success or other commitments.

A study conducted by the John Hopkins University of Medicine shows many of the individuals that had to experience forced awakenings, delayed bedtimes and fragmented sleep experienced low and negative moods after the first night of the three-day experiment. These moods were measured using a standard mood assessment questionnaire which was administrated before sleep on the second night. The mood assessment questionnaire showed that there was a reduction of 31% in positive moods. Dr. Patrick Finan also stated that all of the participants reported normal sleeping patterns before the experiment began. Dr. Patrick Finan also stated that “When your sleep is disrupted throughout the night, you don’t have the opportunity to progress through the sleep stages to get the amount of slow-wave sleep that is key to the feeling of restoration”. This supports the fact that interrupted sleep is having an effect on adolescences.

A caffeine consumption study was conducted on year 7’s, year 8’s and year 9’s in the US. The aim of this study was to determine what effect caffeine would have on sleep patterns of the selected age groups. The students were instructed to keep a two-week diary of the caffeine that was consumed within the week. 191 students participated in the study. The results showed that the average time that the students went to sleep was 10:57 pm and the average time that students would wake up each day was 7:14 am. Younger students displayed an early time to go to sleep and an early time to wake up. The caffeine consumption significantly increased on weekends, but the study coincided that the reason for the increased caffeine consumption on the weekend may be primarily social. The study concluded that caffeine consumption has an increasing effect on the sleeping patterns of the selected age groups.

In conclusion, the question that was discussed within this assignment was why the body needs sleep and what happens to our body when we do not get enough sleep. The sources that were found discussed why the body needs sleep and what happens to our body when we don’t sleep. What variables effect sleep and how sleep deprivation within adolescents were discussed in depth within this assignment. This is a contemporary issue as many people have from a young age to older ages can all struggle from sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation has a serve effect on an adolescent’s academic success. Other variables such as technology, caffeine consumption, sleep fragmentation and working overnight/ late into the night also showed to have effects of sleep deprivation. Therefore, to a serve extent, sleep deprivation has an effect on an adolescent’s academic success.

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The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Adolescent’s Academic Success. (2022, Jun 09). Edubirdie. Retrieved December 6, 2023, from
“The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Adolescent’s Academic Success.” Edubirdie, 09 Jun. 2022,
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Adolescent’s Academic Success. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 6 Dec. 2023].
The Effects of Sleep Deprivation on Adolescent’s Academic Success [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Jun 09 [cited 2023 Dec 6]. Available from:
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