By Austen Morris-Cole

 From early on, the brain develops rather slowly, all the way up to the mid-20s. A teen’s brain develops somewhat unevenly, front to back, from the cerebellum to the prefrontal cortex. The first parts of the brain to form are those which control physical coordination, emotion, and motivation, however, the part of the brain which controls reasoning and impulses does not fully mature until the age of 25. This can affect decision making in the younger generation in terms of drug use and otherwise risky behavior. Partying, drug use, and staying up late can also hinder healthy brain development.

Tom Spagnola, a Sophomore student of North Eugene High School did an interview with me, regarding a number of questions related to sleep and health. He says, “I only get 4 hours of sleep on average.” He doesn’t turn off his tv or electronics an hour before bed either, and rarely eats breakfast.

Sleep is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle. Teens need around 9 ¼ hours of sleep every night in order to function at their best but most teens don’t get enough sleep. In fact, many teens are getting less and less.

Sleep researchers at Brown University are studying this biological clock in action when they tested a group of 10-12 year olds at Stanford. Many studies showed that the later the subject stayed awake, the less sleepy they became. With so many schools starting at around 7a.m. and teens going to bed at 11 and 12, the results of lack of sleep are; lack of focus in classes, being drowsy all day, acting out or aggressive behavior, effects on your appearance, unhealthy eating habits, increased effects of drugs and alcohol, decreased immune system, and even falling asleep at the wheel.

Between a third and one half of all Americans are dealing with insomnia. Sleeping pills cause more unwanted side effects. With dizziness, drowsiness, dry throat, headaches, heartburn, stomach pains, and the possibility of burning or tingling in various limbs when certain sleeping pills are taken, it almost seems safer to lose sleep than deal with the side effects.

Although teens don’t get the suggested amount of sleep every night, changing your schedule and being more aware of the benefits of a regular sleep pattern might change the minds of some. Make sleep a priority, take naps if necessary and/or go to bed an hour earlier.