There don’t seem to be enough hours in a day for many high school students, and crammed schedules can lead to sleep deprivation. When sleep deprived, people face grogginess, slowed reaction times and increased errors on visual tasks. “Students are sleep deprived for a variety of reasons,” Edmond North psychology teacher Judi Shortt said. “School and homework consume a lot of time, not to mention after-school activities, employment for some, family and church activities and trying to squeeze in a social life.” While everyone has their own individual sleep requirements to feel alert and be able to perform at a desired level, adolescents are recommended to get eight to 10 hours of sleep. On average, most get six and a half, according to the book “Psychology” by David G. Myers. “I’m involved in a lot of things at school that take up a majority of my time,” said Hannah Rule, an Edmond Santa Fe High School junior. “I also have a boyfriend and like to spend time with him and I like hanging out with my friends. So by the time I’ve finished doing everything it’s around midnight.” With at least nine hours of sleep a night, people awake refreshed, sustain better moods and perform more efficient and accurate work, according to Myers’ book. With a succession of five-hour nights, however, we accumulate a “sleep-debt” that is not paid off by one 10-hour sleep — which explains why we can feel sleepy even after a long sleep. “When students get limited sleep during the week they think they can play ‘catch up’ on the weekends by sleeping in,” Shortt said. “They actually create this sleep debt which studies have shown is not made up by sleeping a couple extra hours on the weekend. Getting only around six and a half to seven hours of sleep each night during the school week instead of the 40 to 50 needed is like pulling an all-nighter. That can’t be (made) up on Saturday morning.” That is why establishing a consistent sleep routine is important. Going to sleep and getting up at about the same time throughout the entire week establishes a routine to which your body adjusts. Stress also plays an important factor in sleep deprivation, according to Myers’ book. Most students are under a lot of stress, both self-imposed and due to situations out of their control — divorce and parents’ loss of jobs being the main issues. “Usually throughout the day I encounter a lot of problems that I don’t really start to think about until later in the night when I’m getting ready for bed,” Rule said. “I usually start to focus on school drama and stuff like that when I’m laying down because I’m not doing anything but trying to fall asleep. But then I can’t stop thinking and the thoughts dominate my mind, so I can’t fall asleep.” There are multiple factors that affect being able to fall asleep, however. Although falling asleep is often easier said than done, there are a few things a person can do to help get the proper sleep needed. Taking a looking at one’s “pre-sleep” routine for example. “The easiest remedy is to limit caffeine intake, especially two to three hours before bedtime,” Shortt said. “Exercising before wouldn’t be good either because that arouses a variety of psychological responses. The biggest things, though, is being able to break away from technology. Students play video games, text and use other forms of media when they’re trying to wind down which only stimulates the brain, the exact opposite of what one should be doing.” Sleep loss also affects us in more subtle ways, including suppression of the disease-fighting immune system, according to Myers’ book. Sleep deprivation suppresses immune cells that fight off viral infections. Chronic sleep debt also alters metabolic and hormonal functioning in ways that mimic aging and are conductive to obesity, hypertension and memory impairment. Other affects include irritability, slowed performance and impaired creativity, concentration and communication. “I think that if students were to sleep more it would solve a lot of problems,” Rule said. “They would be able to work out arguments with friends, family and significant others better, or even avoid them all together; be able to focus better in class, increasing grades and decreasing punishment at home; and people would just be in a better mood, which can make everything better.” If students feel they are doing all the right things but are still having difficulty sleeping, they should consult their family physician as adolescent sleep disorders are not uncommon.