Sleep deprivation may be defined as a general lack of the essential amount of sleep that a normal human being is supposed to have. An individual may be deprived of sleep due to his/her own state of body and mind, due to insomnia or due to the activities of other people. Sleep deprivation is a sleep disorder, and it can either be acute or chronic. In some cases, long term sleep deprivation may even lead to death. Severe sleep deprivation can lead to daytime sleepiness, drowsiness while driving, fatigue, weight loss and clumsiness. It is worth to note that it is absolutely not possible for an individual to have complete absence of sleep for long durations of time (Carskadon, 200-10).
In the United States, sleep deprivation has turned out to be one of the major prevailing health problems. It is also approximated that in the contemporary world, people sleep one and a half hours less than the normal time that people used to sleep one century ago. This is mainly attributed to the types of tight schedules that people usually have, which do not give them adequate amount of time to rest. It is unfortunate that many people do not realize that lack of sleep can impact negatively on their normal body functioning and ultimately on their health. Nevertheless, many people are unable to get enough sleep due to various problems such as the medications that they use, sleeping disorders, hot flashes, and chronic pain, stress, and health problems such as heart diseases, arthritis and depression. Several researches have established that sleep deprivation can also impact negatively on creativity and brainpower.
In the US, sleep deprivation is the major cause of cases of late arrival of teenagers in school, their sleepiness behavior in class, fatigue and drowsiness while driving which has significantly increased teenage accidents. Sleep deprivation in adolescents gets worse as they grow old. A research that was carried out by NSF’s 2006 Sleep in America poll indicated that only twenty percent of teenagers in America get the recommended 9 hours of sleep during school nights. Almost a half of them sleep for less than 8 hours during school nights. This research also indicated that very few parents know about the exact amount of time that their children take to sleep (NSF, 23).
There is an ongoing debate that is meant to establish whether it is proper for teenagers to use sleep medications. This debate is mainly centered on the notion that sleep medications produce very critical side effects on teenagers and children as a whole. Since sleeping disorders have different causes and diverse symptoms, different medications are usually used to treat them depending on these causes and symptoms. These medications may include herbal remedies, therapies, surgery, hypnosis and changes in lifestyle. The medications bring about a lot of side effects and complications particularly on children and teenagers, especially when used with other types of drugs, and therefore identifying the correct type of treatment is very tricky (Rebecca, 23).
Teenagers are normally not advised to use sleep medications because of effects such as daytime drowsiness, lack of concentration, lightheadedness, poor coordination, dizziness and diarrhea. These side effects may affect their daily performance, especially at school, and hence impact negatively on their learning and education. Other side effects that are associated with sleeping medications include having blurred vision, being forgetful, dependant and being ineffective while carrying out duties.
Teenagers are therefore advised to use sleeping medications only as a last option of treating their sleeping disorders since they are still experiencing mental and behavioral growth which can be hindered by these medications. Instead, they are advised to use behavioral treatments such as reducing their activity before going to bed and developing a bedtime routine. Medical practitioners recommend that people should not use sleep medications for periods that exceed four weeks. In addition, they recommend that it is wrong to abruptly stop the user of any sleep medication. Sleeping medications should therefore be stopped progressively in order to prevent the occurrence of any side effects (Laurence, 17-30).
In spite of the existence of the aforementioned side effects of sleep medications, particularly on teenagers and children, sleep medications have often proved to be helpful in the treatment of sleep deprivation especially when proper medication is administered. It is important to note that the use of sleep medications, especially on teenagers and children should be used only when other types of treatment such as therapy and lifestyle changes have failed. Before choosing any prescription for sleep disorders, one needs to educate him/herself on the types of drugs that exist in the market, their possible side effects, and if they can interact negatively with their current types of medications. There is also need to discuss with the doctor on proper ways of stopping the use of these pills in a gradual manner in order to reduce the occurrence of side effects. In addition, one needs to stop using alcohol, follow directions given by the doctor, and tell the doctor about prior medication and the behavioral changes that appear among other things (William, 212-17).
However, it is important for teenagers to use behavioral treatments for the treatment of their sleeping disorders because they have proven to be more helpful. Recent researches by experts have proved that teenagers who get adequate amounts of sleep are less likely to be involved in the use of alcohol and other drugs. These researches have established that restricted use of computers, mobile phones and watching of television by teenagers helps to minimize their likelihood of trying to use drugs such as marijuana. On the other hand, parents are supposed to ensure that their children get enough rest, and that they also walk with the right friends because most of teenage habits are developed within social groups. It has been established that teens stand a higher chance of suffering from sleep deprivation if their friends also suffer from the same. Consequently, when law enforcement agencies, schools and parents seek for ways of influencing an outcome such as the use of drugs by teenagers, they should target other behaviors such as sleep so as to get a positive result.
In conclusion, parents should ensure that they put proper ways in place to promote healthy sleeping habits in their teenage children such as instilling in them proper bedtime habits, removing the television from their bedrooms, limiting their use of mobile phones and computers to appropriate times only and encouraging them to have naps during their free times.