Zombies! aka sleep-deprived teens

Thursday , March 06, 2014 - 1:35 PM

Karissa Wang

In the early mornings, there is no moment more dreaded than the second your alarm clock buzzes at you to get your lazy bum out of bed.

It’s especially hard to wake up at 6 in the morning if you didn’t go to sleep until 3 a.m. on the same day. You finally drag yourself out of bed and a look in the mirror confirms that you look as tired as you feel. Ugh, you feel like you might pass out from sheer exhaustion.

Come to think of it, you’re looking, feeling and acting quite like a zombie — heck, you can barely keep your eyes open and stand up straight.

Maybe you’ve made it through a few nights with little sleep, but long-term sleep deprivation is a dangerous thing. You should always try to get enough sleep and for a teen, that would be around nine hours per night. So put down your iPod, close that book, turn off the TV and get your rest.

Think that skimping on sleep won’t hurt you? Think again. Here are some major side effects of sleep deprivation:

Foggy minds

• Sleep plays a big role in thinking, learning and decision making. Going to school after only three hours of sleep is difficult because you will have a hard time paying attention and trying to concentrate on the lesson.

• Not getting enough rest will dull your reaction time. If you are old enough to drive, doing so with a hazy mind is hazardous. Think about it; how mad would your parents be if you hurt yourself in a crash and totaled your new car?

• For you teens who play sports, play musical instruments or like to be active, getting enough slumber is very important to keep all your senses sharp.

• If you don’t catch your Zs, the decision-making part of your brain is majorly affected. Because you can’t think clearly, you make irrational choices. Get this — people who are slumber deprived are likely to make poor decisions about whether or not they need sleep. After so many days of sleepiness, you’ll start to think that you don’t need any at all (which couldn’t be further from the truth).

Memory loss

• Sleep is crucial to our memory. While you catch your 40 winks, your mind is hard at work converting your short-term memories to long-term ones. If you didn’t sleep at all, you wouldn’t remember anything that happened to you previously.

Health problems

• During our teenage years, not many of us actually think about our risk of heart failure, high blood pressure and stroke, but these are all things that can happen due to lack of sleep.

• Another common health problem is bad skin. OK, so maybe that isn’t actually considered a heath problem, but we all wish we had blemish-free, even toned, flawless skin and sleep deprivation will most definitely not help you in this case. You know how you wake up with a sickly zombie-like pallor and puffy eyes after only one night of skipping sleep? Well, it’ll only get worse night by night if you don’t get enough shut-eye.

• Losing sleep can make you gain weight. For those of us who are specifically trying to watch our weight, it sure would be a bummer to gain a few pounds just because you stayed up all night playing games on your iPod. Studies show that sleepiness increases the feeling of hunger, which leads to eating, obviously. However, your metabolism slows down in the evening, too, so that midnight snack is a bad idea.

Sleep tips

Are you one of those people who lays in bed for hours before they actually doze off? Try some of these tips to fall asleep faster and easier:

• Exercise at least four times a week. Not only will this keep your body healthy, but when bedtime comes, you’ll already be a little wiped out so you’ll doze off easier.

• Develop a routine by waking up and going to bed at the same time every day. Your body will get used to it, so you will fall asleep faster when the established time arrives.

• Turn off your electronics. Alright, this one is a tough one to follow, but iPods and cellphones can be a major distraction keeping you from sleep. Even if you’re tired, the bright screens will keep you awake.

• Curl your toes. As weird as this one may sound, some people swear it works. While you are in bed, slowly curl and uncurl your toes a few times. It’s said to help you relax.

As you can see, sleep is extremely crucial to your well-being, both mentally and physically. While there isn’t always enough time to get a full nine hours of sleep every night, try to get as much as possible — or risk ending up as a zombie look-alike.

Karissa Wang is a sophomore at NUAMES who likes drawing, writing and mint ice cream. Contact her at wangkarissa@gmail.com.

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