Turn off the lights and go to sleep


Mikayla Bessey

Photo By Mikaela Acton
For more information on the effects of sleep, read the article here.Photo By Mikaela Acton
For years, research has proven that a good nights sleep greatly affects many areas of our lives.  Mood, concentration, memory, and problem solving skills are just some of the areas that suffer when the amount and quality of sleep declines.  Unfortunately, many of us seem to struggle with achieving sufficient quality and the recommended hours.
The National Sleep Foundation (NSF) recommends around 8 hours of sleep per night for adults and 9 for adolescents.  But the average American adult only sleeps 6.7 hours  per night and teenager averaging around 6.5 hours.  This adds up to a loss of 1.3 hours per night for adults or 9.1 hours per week and 2.5 hours less per night for teens which means they are getting 17.5 hours per week than the recommended amount needed to function well.  Over time a continuous lack of sleep wears on the body and the mind and can greatly affect the quality of life.
Why are Americans so sleep deprived and what can be done about it?  There are many things to consider in regards to reasons for sleep deprivation.  Many of these are common sense and most adults and teens are aware of contributing factors like stress, schedule and sleep routines, the amount of caffeine, and busy social lives.  But one factor that may not be realized is how the use artificial lighting is one of the biggest contributors to sleep deprivation today.  Artificial lighting is the glow of lamps, ceiling lights, street lights and signs, cell phones, computers, televisions – any light that is produced artificially.
Humans once spent their nights in relative darkness, but not anymore. When the sun sets, TVs, computers, mobile devices, and artificial lighting burn on. The May issue of the Harvard Health Letter reports that this aspect of modern life may be great for efficiency, but definitely not for health. The artificial lighting throws the body’s biological clock, also called the circadian rhythm, out of whack. So sleep deprivation becomes even more present. The combination of poor sleep and exposure to artificial light exposure are one of the leading causes of sleep deprivation.
In order for high school students and adults to avoid sleep deprivation, they need to reduce the affect that artificial lights have on them and their families. According to the Harvard Health Letter, there are several ways to do so. They can use dim red lights for night lights (red light has the least power to shift circadian rhythm), avoid looking a brightly lit screens beginning two or three hours before bed, and expose themselves to lots of bright light during the day (this will boost your ability to sleep at light). All in all, artificial lights have become an increasing problem in causing major sleep deprivation in adults and high school students, especially in this century, but there are several ways that people can control the way that artificial light impacts their sleep. By changing decreasing the affect that artificial lighting has on our sleep, we can decrease the amount of unhappy, tired people and turn America into a happier, non-sleep deprived place.