The importance of sleep

By Riley Brown

Williston Central School, Grade 8

Sleep is to take the rest afforded by a suspension of voluntary bodily functions and the natural suspension, complete or partial, of consciousness; cease being awake. —The Random House Dictionary of the English Language


Sleep is a bodily function that affects us physically and mentally, and affects our overall health. Everyone needs a certain amount of sleep to feel good and awake during the day. Infants usually need about 16 hours a day, teenagers need 9-10 and adults need about 7-8.

Sleeping patterns are run by a Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN), which is a biological clock. The SCN is affected by light. When it gets dark, we start to feel tired, and when the sun rises in the morning, it wakes people up. This is also why people tend to get jet lag while traveling.

The SCN of a teenager works a lot differently than one of an adult. Teenagers typically go to bed late and wake up late when they are given the option. Teens often have trouble falling asleep before 10 or 11 p.m. Studies have shown that most kids don’t get nearly enough sleep. This could be due to the fact that kids fall asleep late and wake up at 6 or 7 most mornings to go to school. On the weekends, some teenagers don’t wake up until the middle of the day. This is most likely because they’re trying to make up for the sleep that they lost during the week.

A lot of teens are deprived of sleep or have sleep disorders. The most common sleep disorders found in teenagers and adults are sleep apnea, insomnia, narcolepsy and restless legs syndrome.

There are two types of sleep apnea, central and obstructive. Obstructive sleep apnea is one of the most common sleep disorders. People will usually snore really loudly and stop breathing frequently during the night because their throats close. Central sleep apnea is when the brain tells the body to stop breathing periodically during sleep.

Insomnia is having a lot of trouble falling asleep at night. The main cause of this is stress, but there are multiple reasons for this disorder.

Narcolepsy gives people excessive sleepiness throughout the day and this could be dangerous. A person with this disorder might fall asleep during conversations, while at work or school, or a more serious occurrence is while driving a car.

Restless legs syndrome is having discomfort in the legs constantly kicking and shaking. Because of this, people struggle to fall asleep.

Not getting enough sleep can be dangerous and unhealthy. It can cause you to forget things or be unable to concentrate. Going to bed and waking up at a consistent time will help to not feel tired during the day.