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Civic Oration: The Effects of Sleep for a Healthy Lifestyle
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Drew -  5th grade

Sleep is very important for a healthy lifestyle.  Our daily lives are busy, and pushing in one more activity is like trying to jam a pizza box into a garbage bag. It just might fit, but something’s got to give.
Much of the time what’s giving is getting enough sleep. Instead of giving up an interesting book, a favorite TV show, or checking our e-mail, we have found a way to stretch our days longer by stealing from our nights. Some people even believe they can get by on fewer hours and still feel fine, but there are serious effects of  sleep deprivation. Skipping sleep has both physical and mental effects on us, and can even be blamed for hurting ourselves and others.
The brain is like the engine of our bodies. It needs food, water, air and sleep to function well. To be healthy, the average amount of sleep is 6-8 hours. Without this amount of sleep, a person’s concentration and alertness will begin to decrease. People also start to feel irritable, moody, and become very emotional. They will often cry or have problems making choices and good decisions.  This is why if a little kid is not being good and  throwing a fit, he can go and take a nap and he will feel much better. When sleep is lost, brain tissue is actually lost because the brain is not given time to rest and repair itself. If a person makes a habit of not getting enough sleep, serious consequences can happen. The person may suffer from memory loss, bad headaches, depression and even brain damage.
The body also suffers from the effects of sleep deprivation. When you are tired, your eyes can’t focus, and you have blurry vision. You will also yawn a lot. This is your body needing more oxygen. Without sleep, you just don’t look your best, and others will probably comment that you look tired. You will feel jittery and hungry and probably crave unhealthy foods. This is when people turn to caffeine and sugar to stay awake. These food and drinks only give your short term energy and confuse your body. You may even notice when you are tired that you will drop things and become very clumsy. This is because your body is suffering from lack of sleep. When you’re tired, every day activities such as homework, cleaning your room, or even just running errands can be overwhelming. Finally, your immune system is weakened and you are more likely to catch cold or become sick. Your body just wants and needs rest.
Over time, our health begins to wear down, and we can’t continue to function without sleep. Serious health effects can occur. People who sleep less than five hours a night gain much more weight over time than those who sleep seven or more hours. Also, people who don’t get enough sleep often consume more calories than sleepers. Because people are eating more and sleeping less, their blood sugar rises and falls causing them to develop diabetes. Being a diabetic causes their heart disease risk to increase. Then, they are more likely to have heart disease, a heart attack,  heart failure or a stroke. The chances of cancer of all kinds also increases and they are more likely to die young. All of this just because they didn’t get enough sleep.
If you are not getting enough sleep, you are a safety hazard to yourself and everyone around you. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has said that more than 100,000 auto crashes a year are caused by drowsy drivers. This has also been the cause of 1,500 deaths and thousands of injuries. Not getting enough sleep also causes accidents at the work place. From being clumsy to falling asleep on the job, sleep deprivation causes many problems for businesses. This is why people are only allowed to work a certain amount of time without a break.
If you are someone who never sleeps and is always tired, or sees sleep as a big waste of time, it might be time to change the way you think. Without sleep, your body cannot do what it is meant to do. Sleep is so important for a healthy lifestyle and getting enough of it could just save your life. So go on, and take that much needed nap.