Your Health is Your Wealth

Teens understanding their sleep patterns and developing healthy habits can lead to long-term academic and physical growth.

Let’s face it. Sometimes we are our worst enemies. We convince ourselves we can’t go after what we desire most. The mind is both the wall and the bridge for creating and breaking habits. Our internal dialogue is not the truth. 

There’s 500 that make it to Mt. Everest’s sloping peaks annually, 12 who’ve made it to the moon, and 16.4 million people in the United States who have run a marathon in their lives. Like you, all of these people started somewhere. 

It’s the habits people make throughout the day that lead to their goals, like holding off of caffeine and making time for exercise to achieve the greatest night’s rest. 

As Chinese philosopher Lao Tzu once said, “The journey of 1,000 miles begins with a single step.”

Even if healthy sleep has been accomplished, improvements can be enacted to benefit your way of life. Begin your journey of healthier sleep, whether it be 1,000 miles or 5 miles long. Your first step towards your goal will always be the greatest. 

Before habits are changed or tasks satisfied, discipline is needed. Sure, drink caffeine, take another shot of espresso, chug a can of artificial energy and inject them into your bloodstream. I’m not stopping you. Nobody can but you. 

Habits can’t be achieved with short term benefits. With buckets of caffeine comes racing heart rates, skyrocketing blood pressure, and dehydration. Each ounce of caffeine ruins another ounce of flesh.

Sleep is a supremely vital part of the daily routine, as one-third of a lifetime is spent merely sleeping. Roughly 26 years of a person’s life is utilized as sleep and seven years attempting to fall asleep. That’s some heavy time conked, and remarkably so. 

Author Catherine De Lange and Professor Derk-Jan Dijk, director of the Sleep Research Centre at the University of Surrey, says, “You may think you’re resting, but your brain is fulfilling critical tasks from building memories to reinforcing learning to clearing toxins. Considering that we spend a third of our time doing it, sleep is something of an evolutionary paradox. ‘From this viewpoint sleep becomes a period of adapted inactivity.’”

Especially insane times, COVID has the potential to exhaust and feel intense periods of dizziness, fatigue, and stress. Take it from me. I was exhausted for a total of fourteen days, the quarantine time period. I was already significantly pushed over the edge in terms of being tired, and the Coronavirus just tackled the limits. According to CNN journalist Ryan Prior, chronic fatigue during and after contracting the virus can potentially be a possible long-term effect. Even if you haven’t had to tame the virus, exhaustion still reigns in many lives. But fear no more! Sleep is only a stone’s throw away. 

Sleep aids how the neurons communicate with each other, and removes toxin build-up in the brain that occurs when you’re awake. Sleeping influences every bit of the body, including bodily tissues and organ systems, and getting a paucity of sleep significantly inflates the risk of diseases and disorders such as diabetes, depression, obesity, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular disease. Your coffee or energy drink couldn’t do that. 

Cheyenne Mountain’s Principal, Ms. Brenner, articulates on making the move to overhaul the schedule change. “Sleeping and start times have come up on the district wide surveys for years, and schools like Cherry Creek School District have made that move, Poudre School District, Boulder School Districts too, so a lot of the high performing school districts have already made that move, and a lot of school districts are considering that move because of the research done on the way students’ circadian rhythms are during teenage years.” 

Overlooked in our teenhood, circadian rhythms are the conductors of the body. Circadian rhythms direct and command a vast variety of functions, for example, temperature? Circadian rhythm. Metabolism? Circadian rhythm. Hormones? I’ll let you guess this one. It shouldn’t be too hard. If you’re wondering what else this elusive circadian rhythm does, circadian rhythms synchronize with external outdoor factors, like light flow, and can be disrupted with an excess of light or lack thereof, and circadian rhythms can be readjusted for the better. Turning off lights near your bedtime or flicking them on in the morning can regulate it. What mom said about turning out the lights before bed turned out to be true. Turn off those lights and don’t disobey your mother. 

Finishing that Netflix show you’ve been binging on weeknights, telling yourself, I’ll stop after episode 6 and go to bed isn’t working. And telling yourself you’ll sleep for half the day on Saturday doesn’t do you any good either. Catching up or salvaging your sleep on the weekends doesn’t cut it. If you’re heavily sleep deprived, a few hours longer won’t make a dent in the already gaping hole. Teens need on average roughly 9 to 9 ½ hours of sleep per night, and missing out on it is missing out on a healthy night. After all, your health is your wealth. Eating an apple a day? Pshaw! A full night of sleep? It’s gonna keep the doctor away. 

Habits to Habituate: 

Build a sleep schedule through consistent sleeping times, aiming for 8+ hours on average and sleeping early. Ben Franklin wasn’t joking when he famously said, “Early to bed, early to rise.”

Practice a relaxing bedtime ritual. Turn off your phone. Wear a soothing face mask. Read a novel. Stretch. Your room is a sacred place. Avoid electronic distractions. 

Avoid power napping later in the day. Dodge feeling groggy.

Exercise daily for energy, focus, and optimism to your body. 

Keep your room at a consistent 60-67 degrees. Keep it tidy. 

Keep it dark at night, light at day.