How Much Sleep Do I Need?

There is a huge controversy concerning the amount of sleep humans receive. Whether you are a baby, child, teenager, or even an adult, experts and medical doctors have been researching the cause of why no

one receives much sleep anymore. Throughout the readings I have fulfilled, many experts in the field of medicine relate to the sleep habits that all individuals encounter, whether you are a child, young adult, and even adults. When we are little, we whine about having to take a nap or go to bed. When we are teenagers, it seems we never get enough of it, even in class. When we are adults, it seems like there is just no time for it. We dread hearing that alarm clock go off in the morning, and sometimes getting up seems impossible. The snooze button hates us because we are always pressing it, hoping for just a few more minutes of sleep.

Even though sleeping is the last thing that one would consider good for one’s health, it is actually a key ingredient to a healthy lifestyle. Sleep is the natural periodic state of rest for the body and the mind and is a necessity for everybody. The required amount of sleep varies from one person to another, but everybody needs sleep. How much sleep is enough sleep and can the lack of sleep affect one’s health? Sleep deprivation is the lack of sleep or rest in which the human body does not have time to heal and recharge. When looking at the relationship between sleep deprivation and Attention Deficit Disorder, the toll it takes on high school students and their academic performances. Sleep deprivation also affects simple daily tasks, teenagers and American adults as a whole, and the roll sleep deprivation plays in health problems. People need to be getting the correct amount of sleep or else they are at risk of certain health problems.

The average amount of sleep needed by an American adult is eight to nine hours per night (Betteheim 555). Most people are not getting the correct amount of sleep according to Adriel Betteheim published by the CQ Researcher, thirty-four percent of American adults get less than seven hours of sleep per night (556). Not only does sleep deprivation cause severe fatigue and drowsiness, it also has an affect on one’s physical health. Sleep deprived people have shown an average drop of forty percent in glucose metabolism, which is a sign of diabetes. Adults are also more likely to develop heart disease. Sleep deprivation also affects children’s health. Sleep problems are a major symptom of ADD. When a child is sleep deprived, he or she becomes restless and has trouble focusing (Greene 1). “Until recently, the effects of partial sleep deprivation have been seriously underestimated.

Just common sense shows that kids are more moody, more impulsive, and less able to concentrate when they do not receive adequate sleep” (1) stated in an article on by Dr. Alan Greene. These problems may also be affecting high school students and their ability to pay attention in class. High school students need more sleep than adults, and the amount of sleep they require exceeds the amount elementary and grade school student’s need. High school students need an average of nine hours of sleep per night (Carpenter 3). Throughout America, people along with high school students are not getting enough sleep and this has more of an effect than one may think. Sleep deprivation could also be bringing down the health of many Americans and may be affecting high school students’ performances in the classroom.

Sleep deprivation affects simple skills such as driving. During the years 1989 through 1993, there was an estimated fifty-six thousand car accidents annually where it was stated in the police report that one of the drivers felt drowsy (Peters 1). This may have happened in result of the slower reaction time that occurs due to lack of sleep. People who do not get enough sleep have slower reaction time and have difficulty focusing on the road. In addition, the sound of cars vibrating on the road is soothing, adding to a relaxed feeling. This in turn makes people feel drowsy slower reaction time and have difficulty focusing on the road. In addition, the sound of cars vibrating on the road is soothing, adding to a relaxed feeling.

Staff at Cable News Network Health found that people who have been awake for seventeen to nineteen hours are shown to have performed worse than drivers with a blood alcohol content level of .05% (1). In addition, the National Sleep Foundation determined that social problems such as road rage might be caused, in part, by a national epidemic of sleepiness (The Causes, Effects, and Dangers of Sleep Deprivation 1). Law enforcement are trying to cut down on the levels of drinking and driving, while there are people driving on the road with only a couple hours of sleep per night, maybe even a couple of hours per week. As one safety issue is being handled on the roads, another one is silently growing. A simulation showed that there was a direct increase in the amount of illegal car maneuvers with the amount of lost sleep per person (Peters 1).

There were also many more actual car accidents as well. An article about sleep deprivation by the CNN Health staff says that in a study published in the British Journal Occupational and Environmental Medicine, researchers in Australia and New Zealand said that sleep deprivation can have the same hazardous effects as being drunk (CNN 1). The same study said that sixteen to sixty percent of road accidents involve sleep deprivation (CNN 1).

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, drowsiness and fatigue cause more than One hundred thousand traffic accidents each year and young drivers are at the wheel in more than half of these crashes (Carpenter 1). Sleep deprivation has a great effect on drivers, especially to those who work long shifts including night shifts.

Sleep deprivation hits America’s fast paced society hard. “America is so fast pace and always moving; that every night people get a little less of the sleep that is needed” says Mike Richard. The point that he was delivering is that Americans are always on the go, just look at our restaurants these days, we have drive thru and carryout because everyone is in such a hurry that they do not have time to go inside and pick up their meals they need their food fast so they can get going with what’s ahead. In 1993, a commission appointed by Congress on sleep deprivation found that about forty million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems (Betteheim 1). According to a nation wide survey conducted by Holy Cross College on sleep loss and sleep problems, thirty-two of Americans that were surveyed, sleep less than seven hours per night (Betteheim 1). Out of that thirty-two of people, half of those people suffer from insomnia, a disorder that makes it hard to fall asleep or stay asleep for long periods of time. Another problem with sleeping is snoring; thirty-six percent of Americans snore every night or almost every night (Betteheim 557). Snoring may not seem like a big problem, but snoring is a sign that one is not breathing correctly during the time they sleep. The actual amount of sleep for a healthy American adult is eight to nine hours (Betteheim 557). This is not that much compared to the nine to ten hours of sleep a teenager needs every night. In a brief discussion with Yazan Soofi he made a good point that stated “Adults need less sleep than teenagers because a teenager’s body is always moving and is almost always under some kind of stress; they are still growing, while an adult body is already matured and is done growing.” While I completely agree because the body is growing the most during their high school years, and this is the time where a person needs the most sleep. It is almost the same reason babies sleep so much when they are born. These two times in a person’s live are when they grow the most.

Even though I have accomplished both the reading and the interviewing. I highly believe that my readings educated me more into this research topic. The reading was deeper into what I was looking for, it provided me with the information that I needed to conduct this paper. The interviewing on the other hand did not go so well based on that I am interviewing students like me that carry the same knowledge that I carried before starting this topic. Unless I was interviewing an expert with knowledge concerning this topic, I would say that the interviewing was not helpful at all. So with that said there are absolutely no similarities between interviewing and the reading.

As the paper goes on, I believe more will need to be discussed about the topic of sleep deprivation and how it relates to attention deficit disorder. I also believe that the outline that is given to put this paper through is not educating the reader enough about what I want to explain. So as this paper gets further and further you will read statements and you will shake your head at everything you read, because when you think back in your days you will admit that it is all true. I will try my best to not only have the reader just read this paper, but to make them think back and imagine everything as they are reading. I believe that everything stated is true in life, and you will completely realize that as you have read the paper.
High school students are hit hard with sleep deprivation and other sleeping problems. High school adds quite a bit of stress and pressure to the life of a teenager, from dealing with college or future plans, to a social life, and sometimes even sports. All of this, while at the same time one’s body is still growing and going through changes. While trying to complete all of these tasks, and still get the proper amount of sleep, may be very difficult to accomplish. According to the CNN Health staff, people who sleep less are more likely to receive higher levels of stress, anxiety, and depression (1). This stress and anxiety may also be why the society and today’s youth have increasing issues with obesity which leads to low self esteem issues and depression. As stated by Willow Lawson of Psychology Today, “Depression is often linked to obesity. But it seems to be the case with the chicken and the egg. The two conditions often occur together, but it is unclear which is the cause and which is the effect” (1).

Early school start times affect the amount of sleep a student gets. According to Carskador, a doctor conducting research on sleep deprivation stated “These early start times are abusive, these kids may be up and at school by 8:30, but I am convinced their brains are back on the pillow at home” (Carpenter 4). Not only does sleep deprivation bring ones grades down, but kids with insufficient sleep have shown many disciplinary problems at school as well (Carpenter 1). These early school start times were caused when school districts staggered start times to save money on buses. The staggered times put high school start times earlier than the others. This is really backwards because teenagers need the most sleep. So high school students are getting robbed of their sleep to save money for the school districts (Betteheim 2). The irony in this decision is obvious. The students who need to be getting the most sleep actually get the least amount and have to be at school the earliest.

When really if it was the other way around, teenagers would be able to drive their younger brother or sister to school, and still be getting more sleep. Another way to look at it is that teachers always complain about high school students sleeping during class. Maybe if the students had a designated naptime, like the elementary students do, they would perform better in school. High school students need more than nine hours of sleep per night, but twenty-six percent of students only get seven hours of sleep (Carpenter 3). According to The survey at Holy Cross College, students who received A’s and B’s averaged thirty-five minutes more sleep than students who received D’s and F’s (Betteheim 2). This shows that just a little more sleep helps out a lot and the students who get less sleep perform worse academically. “Almost all teenagers, as they reach puberty, become walking zombies because they are getting far too little sleep,” comments Cornell University psychologist James B. Maas, PhD, one of the nations leading sleep experts (Carpenter 1). This may be just the reason high school students tend to fall asleep in class.

Less sleep makes it harder for people to think properly. Daniel DeNoon of WebMD Health stated that a sleepy person’s brain works harder and accomplishes less (1). Recent studies show that the brain moves certain tasks from part of the brain to another (DeNoon 1). In this study, it is shown that the first part of the brain to shut down is the language area (1). This is why people mumble more and are harder to understand when they are talking, another symptom of sleep deprivation. When someone is tired and sleep deprived, he or she has to think hard about simple tasks that would not usually need a lot of thought. According to Christian Gillin, MD, “Sleep deprivation is bad for your brain, when you are trying to do high level thinking tasks” (DeNoon 1). Insufficient sleep also causes a lack of concentration, making it hard to focus on just one job at a time. Many people see this as having ADD, but really they are just sleep-deprived.

Attention Deficit Disorder is a common disease in many young children today. Many children though may be misdiagnosed with ADD when really they are just suffering from sleep deprivation. Some symptoms of sleep deprivation include restlessness and a lack of attention (Greene 2), which also happen to be symptoms of ADD as well. Another symptom of ADD is poor sleep habits (Greene 1). Not only is this a problem, but also researchers say it is worsened by the medication the children are taking to treat the ADD (Greene 2). Another way one can tell if a child is not sleeping correctly at a young age is by snoring. The key age to tell if a child is not sleeping right nor has problems is two to five years old. This is the time that one can catch a kid snoring (Greene 3). Many kids are labeled with ADD, when they may just be suffering from chronic sleep problems. Many researches are finding that doctors are mislabeling children with ADD when they just need more sleep. ADD is playing a big role in children’s performance in school and at home. When an adult notices a child misbehaving or not paying attention, it is like they automatically point the finger at ADD. Many parents and teachers say these things to take the responsibility off of them and want to make it look as though it is the child’s fault. According to the article by Dr. Alan Greene on Sleep Deprivation and ADD/ADHD, recent research has verified that chronic poor sleep results in daytime tiredness, difficulties with focused attention, low threshold to express negative emotion, irritability, easy frustrated, and difficulty modulating impulses and emotions. These are the symptoms that can earn kids the diagnoses of attention deficit disorder or attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (1). Even when ADD is the correct diagnosis, addressing the sleep issues can dramatically improve the behavior of the child (Greene 2). There are now more than three thousand Sleep Disorder Centers that can provide help in correctly diagnosing a child with sleeping disorders.

Not only does sleep deprivation playa role in the health of a child, but it also play a big part in the health of adults. Sleep deprivation plays a major role in many diseases such as diabetes and heart problems. Many adults today do not do the necessary things to keep their bodies and minds healthy, and sleep deprivation is one thing to blame. Today’s fast paced society has adults doing more work in less time. If there is less time to do things that mean there is less time to eat and sleep healthily.

A morning routine for many adults is to wake up and have a cup of coffee and to continue to drink coffee for the rest of the day, to make up for the sleep they did not receive during the previous night. This causes the sleeping process to become even more irregular. Adults continue to load up on high amounts of caffeine to help them stay alert throughout the duration of the long day. The consumption of carbonated soft drinks increased from twenty-four gallons per capita to fifty-one gallons per capita (Jekanowski 4). Most carbonated soft drinks include caffeine. The body of most adults, while working full time and having children to take care of, is abused. With the thirty-four percent boost of fast food sales since 1982, adults and kids are packing their bodies with garbage (Jekanowski 1). This is another problem with the health of the adults; not only does the malnutrition that the adults are undergoing affect their health”, but so does their incorrect sleeping habits. A study of healthy adults who suffered from sleep deprivation showed a forty percent drop in glucose metabolism (The Causes, Effects, and Dangers of Sleep Deprivation 2). This is a significant sign of diabetes which most people know leads to many other health issues. Adults who do not get the recommended amount of sleep are more likely to develop diabetes and health problems. A 1993 commission appointed by Congress on sleep deprivation found that about forty million Americans suffer from chronic sleep problems.

Adults who do not get the right amount of sleep are said to be aging faster than adults who get enough sleep. Adults who are getting the required amount of sleep every night live longer and are less likely to develop health problems. Not only is not getting enough sleep bad for someone, but also getting too much may also being hazardous to one’s health. Too much sleep can be an early sign of depression or other health issues. Even though too much sleep can be bad for people, the lack of sleep has a more detrimental affect on a person.

Getting a good nights rest is something that is important to people’s health. There are many things that can help people get better sleep. According to the National Women’s Health Information Center in an article on frequently asked questions about Insomnia, provided by the National Institute of Health the following are several things that one can do in order to achieve better sleeping habits: Try to sleep at the same time each night and get up at the same time each morning. Try not to take naps during the day because naps make one less sleepy at night. Avoid caffeine, nicotine, and alcohol late in the day. Caffeine and nicotine are stimulants and can keep one from falling asleep. Alcohol can cause waking in the night and interferes with sleep quality. Get regular exercise. Try not to exercise close to bedtime because it may stimulate someone and make it hard to fall asleep. Experts suggest not exercising for three hours before the time one goes to sleep (NIH 3). Do not eat a heavy meal late in the day. A light snack before bedtime, however, may help one sleep. Make someone’s sleeping place comfortable. Be sure that it is dark, quite, and not too warm or too cold. If light is a problem, try a sleeping mask. If noise is a problem, try earplugs, a fan, or a “white noise” machine to cover up the sounds (NIH 3). Follow a routine to help relax and wind down before sleep, such as reading a book, listening to music, or taking a bath. Avoid using a bed for anything other than sleep and sex. If it is hard to sleep and do not feel drowsy, get up and read or do something that it not overly stimulating until one feels sleepy (NIH 3). If one has trouble lying awake worrying about things, try making a to-do list before bed. This may help one to ” let go: of those worries overnight. If it is hard to fall asleep, there are many methods to help “but resorting to medication should be last on one’s list.

To ensure that one is getting proper help with their sleep problems, there is a checklist to go over and the fist step according to an article written in is recognizing that one is sleep deprived (2). Re-training one’s self to adopt and follow a more normal sleep routine isn’t going to happen overnight (2). The effect on physical energy is also startling: otherwise healthy people quickly show symptoms of age (The Causes, Effects, and Dangers of Sleep Deprivation 1). Different people require a different number of hours each night to insure they get enough sleep. While some adults may need eight to nine hours of sleep, others function just fine on only three to four hours each night.

In August researchers at the University of Minnesota reported the results of a study of more than seven thousand high-school students whose school district had switched in 1997 from a 7:15 a.m. start time to an 8:40 a.m. start time. Compared with students whose schools maintained earlier starts times, students with later starts reported getting more sleep on school nights, being less sleepy during the day, getting slightly higher grades and experiencing fewer depressive feelings and behaviors (Carpenter 2).

Sleep deprivation affects America as a whole. One way to notice the proper amount of sleep one need is on the third or forth day of a vacation when they have caught up on sleep and they wake up with a wake up call or an alarm clock. Sleep deprivation is directly connected to ADD, takes a toll on high school students, and affects everyday tasks and major health problems through out America. ADD may just be misdiagnoses of sleep deprivation. When children lack attention and are restless people automatically diagnose the child with ADD, when they really just need more sleep. Also, high school students are greatly affected in their performance at school and also at home. Teenagers lose a lot of sleep every night staying out with their friends and the early school starts. Not only do teenagers lose a lot of sleep, but adults do as well. Sleep helps the body recharge which helps with the mind focus on simple tasks. When the body and mind do not get the correct amount of sleep, simple daily tasks are not done as easily. More car accidents and trouble with attitude and trouble in school are just some of these things. There will also be more health risks as well. People who are sleep deprived are more likely to develop diabetes and heart disease more easily than people who get enough sleep every night. Throughout America, people need more sleep and then society will move towards being a healthier, happier place for everyone.

Works Cited
Betteheim, Adriel. “Sleep Deprivation.” CQ Researcher. Vol. 8 no 24. Congressional Quarterly Inc. June 26, 1998.

Cardinal, Florence. “Sleep Arnea and Cardiac Arrest.” University Allsiance. 1-3. 13 April 2005.

Carpenter, Siri. “Sleep Deprivation May Be Undermining Teen Health.” Monitor on Psychology. 9 October 2001. 1-4. 7 March 2005.

DeNoon, Daniel. “Lack of Sleep Takes Toll on Brain Power.” WebMD Health. 9 February 2001. 1-2. 8 March 2005.

“Frequently Asked Questions About Insomnia.” 3-4. 13 April 2005.

Greene, Alan. “Sleep Deprivation and ADHD.” Dr. 2 February 1997. 1-5. 23 March 2005.

“Info on Sleep Deprivation.” 2002. 1-5. 23 March 2005.

Jekanowski, Mark D. “Causes and Consequences of Fast Food Growt.” LookSmart’s Find Articles. 1999. 1-6. 10 May 2005.