With more than 70% of high-school students getting less than 6 hours of sleep a day, getting the recommended 10-hour sleep is far from normal for an average high schooler, especially in the Bay Area. (Verywell Mind) This deprivation is likely a leading cause of hazardous behaviors including smoking, vaping, and the use of unhealthy amounts of caffeine for the sole goal of staying awake and functioning. Students with less than 6 hours of sleep are also more likely to harm themselves or think of committing suicide. We have turned into a society that burns the candle at both ends, whether its academics or a broken relationship.
Smoking and Vaping
Smoking itself is a huge problem in high schools. Many students over the past few years have been caught using marijuana and tobacco to cope with stress and drowsiness. Studies have shown, as school start times get earlier, smoking, vaping, drugs, and alcohol usage has increased by up to 35%. (NIH)
Smoking and vaping damages the body in ways many teens usually don’t think about. For example, when nicotine is inhaled, it reaches the brain and abnormally produces an excess amount of adrenaline and releases an abnormal amount of dopamine. Nicotine quickly docs to your neurotransmitters which influence numerous bodily functions, and nerve behavior. The release of chemicals artificially can be catastrophic to young brain development.
Vaping also has the same influences as smoking but has greater nicotine levels, which in turn leads to addiction. If you vape, your lungs can be home for heavy metals such as lead-tin and nickel. Vaping also includes many carcinogens.
Vaping was first designed to help smokers lose their addiction to cigarettes, but companies didn’t know it would turn into such a big epidemic. Vaping in the teenage group is common but deadly. I have personally witnessed a fair amount of vape pens spreading at my high school. A lot of the school staff have taken action, but this plague is far greater than some administrative action.
For many students, a cafe or a convenience store in the morning has been a needed stop to keep up with school, classes, and stress. Students drink caffeine and don’t realize that nevertheless, it’s a drug and it affects our bodies in many negative ways. Many students buy 5-hour energy bottles and hope that they can push through the day. They don’t understand that these shots contain extremely high doses of caffeine and should not be taken, especially by minors.
It can affect our body by causing us to have serious discomforts compared to not having caffeine. Symptoms include excessive jitters and nervousness, upset stomach, and headaches. Caffeine might also have some adverse effects from the intended cause of using it: difficulty concentrating, and trouble speaking. Excessive caffeine can also create some permanent health issues. A fast heart rate and higher than normal blood pressures. (Futurism) This increases the risk of heart issues later on in life.
Depression and Anxiety
Sleep deprivation and suicide go hand-in-hand. Sleep deprivation leads to students lacking focus in their classes. This leads to subpar performance and eventually a ‘bad’ grade either in an assignment or the whole class. It is no surprise how bad grades are one of the most stress-causing factors for a high school student. Lower grades can also cause parental and peer pressure, building up stress that a student has no way to ease. The chances of suicidal thoughts in this situation are pretty high.
Some reasons for suicide are:
● Major depression
● Substance abuse issues
● Traumatic or stressful life events
● Prior suicidal thoughts
● A sense of isolation and lack of support
● Poor coping skills
●Access to a suicide method
Source: Verywell Mind
Depression and anxiety are very common throughout high school students, leading to various thoughts about suicide and harming themselves or others. We all as a community should come together to make school start times later and stop underaged smoking, vaping, and alcohol usage. We should also work on a stronger support system by parents and staff of schools. These small steps would help reduce sleep deprivation amongst high school students and in-turn help reduce depression and anxiety.
If you see anything out of the ordinary for any of your friends or family where they are showing any suicidal signs, please talk to them and please refer to the suicide hotline. (1 (800) 273-8255) This immense task can only be finished if we come together and strive for success.