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Sleep and college admissions

Winners get their sleep
Photo by Oli Scarff/Getty Images

Movies often depict high school students as incurably lazy, getting up late on weekends and partying until the wee hours of the morning on Friday and Saturday nights. Those of you focused on the college admissions path, however, know better. Never again in your life may you work as hard as you are right now. Between the demands of your classes and your extra curricular activities, late nights are probably common for you, but not because you are partying but because you are working. And getting up late? How rare is that?

Nevertheless, this article asks you to consider sleeping a little longer. According to the National Sleep Foundation, the average teenager needs between 8.5 and 9.25 hours of sleep a night. However, very few adolescents manage this, and the results of chronic sleep deprivation can be more than you bargained for.

First, sleep deprivation causes you to be less effective. Concentration decreases making you absorb less when you are in class. This in turn makes you have to work longer hours to do well in your classes, causing you to lose more sleep, and the cycle continues. Loss of effectiveness can also decrease your athletic performance level. If this is an important aspect of your extracurricular life, again, you could be shooting yourself in the foot.

Furthermore, if you are a driver, sleep deprivation is outright dangerous. According to The National Highway Safety Traffic Administration, more than 100,000 accidents, 40,000 injuries, and 1,500 people are killed in the United States because of drowsy drivers. Do not add yourself to these statistics.

Finally, sleep deprivation during teen years can cause lifelong health problems. Illnesses such as increased blood pressure, increased inflammation in the body, and depression are linked to chronic loss of sleep.

No doubt it is not easy to get 8 to 9 hours of sleep when you are working hard, trying to get into college, but try to do the best you can. Keep a schedule for yourself. Do not procrastinate, and try your best to avoid all nighters. And although you are trying to design the most impressive college application possible, be careful not to bite off more than you can chew. You should not be doing so much that you cannot get enough sleep without sacrificing your obligations. Finally, if you have trouble figuring out how much activity is right for you, consider talking to a college admissions counselor. You will be glad you did.

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