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Sydni White

November 11th, 2014


UWRIT 1101-105
Mini-Ethnography
Sleep Deprivation in Adolescents and Young Adults

Sleep Deprivation and Its Effects on Modern-Day Students


Sleep deprivation is a general term to describe a state caused by a lack of sleep,
whether it is severe, mildly-severe, or just a temporary altered state of mind due to a few hours of
the recommended total hours of sleep being lost. Recently, there has been a lot of discussion in
regards to the correlation between sleep deprivation, and people who attend school regularly.
The reason this has become such a popular topic within the neuroscience community is because
many researchers have found that a lot of adolescents and young adults who attend school on a
day-to-day basis are not getting as many hours of sleep as recommended by almost all medical
professionals. Researchers have found that teens are biologically driven to sleep longer as
opposed to adults, that that the effects of insufficient sleep are more likely to be more dramatic
than that of a sleep-deprived adult (Carpenter, 42). There have been several observations and
students within modern-day school systems, and the effects of sleep deprivation are negatively
impacting the students academic performance, and their overall outlook on life. Students may
not know whether they are sleep deprived or not, due to the fact that most cases of sleep
deprivation in students are not chronic. Although most students may not have chronic sleep
deprivation, it could still have a negative impact on various aspects of the students life in
different ways. For example, a student just losing a few hours of sleep each night could be sleep
deprived and not even know it, but they may have a lack of motivation when it comes to school

or any other aspects of their lives, and they may have a rather negative outlook on some aspects
of their lives. The most effective solution for sleep deprivation within adolescents and young
adults would be to consider altering their time management skills.

Commonality of Sleep Deprivation within a School Setting


In a psychology class the researcher attended in high school, the effects of sleep deprivation
and the way it impacted students throughout their everyday lives was discussed. It was found that
many students appear to be fatigued, but others may look the same as they usually do.
Psychologically though, the student will feel groggy, and will lack motivation to do anything in
an academic setting. On two separate observations conducted by the researcher, one observation
on an early Monday morning, around 8:30-10 AM in front of the College of Health and Human
Services (CHHS) on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte as well as
during a class in CHHS, and another on a Tuesday afternoon, around 12-2 PM at various
locations around UNC-Charlotte. In the first observation, it was noted that most of the student
appeared to be groggy and fatigued and there was very little socialization between students. The
campus at that time was quiet, and there was not a lot of activity occurring at the moment; very
little traffic (foot and car traffic), few conversations, and not a lot of students transitioning to
their classes during that time. During that time of the first observation it was somewhat gloomy
outside, which can also have an effect on the people in the surrounding area. In the classroom
setting during the first observation, there was some conversation between students about topic
such as what they did the night before, homework they had to complete, and things of that
nature; there was more conversation in comparison to the setting outside of CHHS. There were
several students who appeared fatigued during the first observation, myself included, in the

classroom setting, and a lot of students were slouching in their seats, checking their phones, and
not doing a lot of socialization with others. It was concluded by the researcher that students
appeared to be more outwardly fatigued in the early morning and are less likely to socialize with
others for an extended amount of time, showing that sleep deprivation is definitely a factor
within the academic setting. The second observation conducted by the researcher was somewhat
different in comparison to the first observation. During the second observation, it was noted that
there was a lot more activity going on, and there was a surplus of students to observe. Many
students during the second observation did not seem to appear fatigued, although there were a
few students observed in the library napping, and appearing somewhat relaxed while working on
other things in isolation, and a few students that just seemed tired while walking to their next
destination. During the second observation, there were several students walking in pairs or
within groups. Most students during the second observation appeared to be more energized when
socializing with others, and some students seemed to match the observations of the students in
the first observation conducted by the researcher. It was concluded that depending on the
surroundings, the student could either outwardly display their signs of sleep deprivation, but it
really all depends on that students time-management skills. When speaking of surroundings, the
researcher means that if a student is surrounded by several other students, the students appear to
be more energized and sociable, but when the student is no longer surrounded by others they
appear to be more sluggish and groggy.
What Can Lessen the Effects of Sleep Deprivation Within the Academic Setting?
As mentioned several times earlier, the best method to managing sleep deprivation, or to
prevent sleep deprivation in the first place, is to practice good time management skills. Sleep
deprivation drives from the lack of sleep many students experience while enrolled as a full-time

student due to staying up late completing assignments, hanging out with friends, or whatever
they choose to do with their time. Many students lack proper time management skills, and that is
why sleep deprivation is having such a dramatic impact on their academic careers. Researchers
have found that many adolescents and young adults do not get the recommended amount of sleep
out of all of the age groups due to the way they are at that ae where they should be getting the
most amount of sleep out of all the age groups due to the way they are biologically set up. Proper
time management is really the most effective way to keep sleep deprivation at bay, and also
improve the academic performance of many students.

Works Cited
Beebe, Dean W. Cognitive, behavioral, and functional consequences of inadequate
sleep in children and adolescents. Pediatric Clinics of North America 58.3 (2011): 649-665
Szymczak, J.T., et al. Annual and weekly changes in the sleep-wake rhythm of school
children. Sleep 16.5 (1993): 433-435.
Wolfson, Amy R., and Mary A. Carskadon. Understanding adolescents sleep patterns
and school performance: a critical appraisal. Sleep medicine reviews 7.6 (2003): 491-506
Carpenter, Siri. Sleep Deprivation May Be Undermining Teen Health. Oct. 2011
Sleep Deprivation Better Health Channel. Better Health Channel. N.p., n.d.