5 Scary Health Effects Of Sleep Deprivation During The Teen Years

Sleep loss can take a devastating toll on the mind and body at any stage of life, from early childhood to older adulthood. But for teenagers, who are at a critical stage of development, skipping out on sleep can be particularly dangerous.

“[Sleep deprivation] is extremely detrimental at all stages of life,” Dr. Michael Breus, a clinical psychologist and sleep specialist, told The Huffington Post in an email. “In the teen years, when development continues … the sleep deprivation effects of brain and body development are significant.”

Though sleep is arguably most critical during the teen years, teenagers are the least likely of any age group to be getting sufficient rest. Over 90 percent of American high school students are chronically sleep-deprived, according to a 2014 survey.

While the National Institutes of Health estimates that teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep per night, only 9 percent of high school students are actually meeting these recommendations. Even more alarming is the fact that a whopping 20 percent are getting by on less than five hours per night.

A number of biological and lifestyle factors converge to wreak havoc on a teenager’s sleep schedule. Late bedtimes, increasing technology dependence and high stress levels — plus early school start times — are a recipe for chronic sleep deprivation and the health risks that come along with it.

“Teens are biologically predisposed to stay up later at night and sleep later in the morning,” Breus wrote in a recent Huffington Post blog. “This shift in teens’ sleep-wake cycle, which is a normal part of development, can make a 9 or 10 p.m. bedtime difficult.”

Over time, that late-to-bed, early-to-rise sleep schedule can lead to a number of health risks. Here are some of the physical and mental —> Read More