Ochsner LSU Health doctor explains importance of setting sleep schedule for students

Published: Aug. 3, 2023 at 10:35 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 3, 2023 at 10:38 PM CDT
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SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - While students are beginning to prepare their academic schedules, they may want to start preparing their sleep schedules for the upcoming school year.

Doctor Sheila Asghar, of Ochsner LSU Health, tells KSLA that a lack of sleep impacts children of all ages in various ways.

“So, a young child may get irritable, moody, or you know on the other hand, they may become very hyper. Not wanting to settle down, fight sleep, even though their eyes are closing,” Dr. Asghar said.

She says sleep deprivation can impact older students’ academic performance as well as their memory and ability to do math.

“With older children, what happens is that they have trouble focusing, lack of concentration in school and then having trouble remembering or retaining things thought in school,” the doctor explained.

Outside of school, sleep deprivation can also affect teenagers’ family dynamics.

Some students might even use caffeine as a substitute for sleep which could take a toll on their mental health.

“They might be fighting sleep by trying to stay awake by drinking more caffeine, but then the problem is if you drink a lot of caffeine, it makes your heart rate go up. You get anxious,” Dr. Asghar said.

In addition, lack of sleep can allow pre-existing depression to become worse.

“Say you have an underlying depression that was never picked up, and then now you’re sleep deprived on top of it,” Dr. Asghar said. “So then what happens is it exacerbates everything, and now, you may have a full flare up of that depression.”

Not only is sleep deprivation a mental health issue, but it can weaken your immune system.

Dr. Asghar recommends that students work on their sleep schedules now, so they can be well adjusted by the time school starts.