What Are the Effects of Sleep Deprivation? in Mind

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Sleeping is part of our everyday lives, yet it has been revealed that many young people are not getting enough sleep at night, why is this?

Research by psychologist Jane Ansell - who set up the charity Sleep Scotland - found that 52% of Scottish teenagers were sleep deprived and that 20% of teenagers had fallen asleep in class in the previous 2 weeks as a result.


Research suggests that teenagers need at least 9 hours of sleep to function, with, according to BUPA, adults needing between 7 and 8 hours a night. So why are young people not getting the required amount?

Technology - The sleep denier

With the rise in popularity of social media and mobile technology, it is now more common for teenagers to be staying up later. They may be lying in bed under a duvet, but on a device talking to their friends through text, Facebook, Twitter or a messenger app.

However, according to Russell Foster, Professor of Circadian Neuroscience at Oxford University, these devices keep you alert and are very bad for sleep patterns, he says,

"That will make it harder to get to sleep after you've stopped playing...The great problem with teenagers is that you're not only biologically programmed to go to bed late and get up late, but there's also many attractions like gaming and Facebook and texting and many teenagers are doing this into the early hours of the morning and delaying sleep even further."


So, what happens when you don’t get a good night’s sleep?

Many young people don’t realise that not sleeping enough can actually create health problems for themselves in the future.


Firstly, the long term memory can be affected. According to Jane Ansell, sleep is very important for exam grades, with sleep helping your ability to remember things and consolidate important information – very useful when you are trying to revise and remember your coursework!

Immune System

Researchers at the University of Surrey also found that a lack of sleep also affected the immune system and the body’s ability to respond to damage. Sleep was said to be very important for cell regeneration and helping the body function.

Other health problems

Research has also found other problems linked with a lack of sleep. James Gallagher, Health & Science reporter at BBC News, reported that heart disease, diabetes, obesity and poor brain function have all been found to be linked to sleep deprivation. 

Also: our reaction times get slower, we are more likely to get ill and our mood and mental health suffers.


Sleep is needed for your body to function properly! Try and aim for 9 hours of sleep at night. Go to bed a little earlier and you will notice the difference. Once you get in a routine, sleep will come a lot easier!