By Ashlea Eversole & Livy Hanke, J1 students
A lot goes on in the cafeteria before school. One thing in particular happens without fail- students complain about how little sleep they got the night before. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends 8-10 hours of sleep every night for teenagers aged 13-18. However, it was shocking to find out that, out of a pool of 100 random students, 0% reported getting this recommended amount of sleep every night.
Sleeping affects concentration, metabolism, learning, and plenty of other everyday functions. In short, it’s a necessity. However, many teens these days see sleep as a luxury- something that is given up to do homework, something that really only happens on the weekends, or simply something that is biologically unfeasible. But what causes this pervasive problem?
There are two main reasons why a teenager wouldn’t get enough sleep- the first is a simple lack of time. Between hours of homework, extracurriculars, jobs, sports, and other obligations, students are busy all around the clock. One student said, “it comes down to [choosing] whether I want to finish an assignment or study for a test or sleep. I almost always sacrifice sleep for school.” Many simply see sleep as a commodity that can be bartered with in order to buy more time.
We interviewed Junior Mary Grace Welch about her sleep habits. She claims to get between 6 to 7 hours of sleep every night. Mary Grace participates in organizations like Rose Theater, Quick Recall, and is president of Culinary Club, all of which put a strain on the time she can devote to homework and sleep. When asked what causes her to lose sleep, she responded “I’m always on that grind.” If she’s running low on time, Mary Grace says she doesn’t hesitate to stay up a couple hours late to make sure her work is finished for the following day.
Another reason students don’t get enough sleep is simple biology- the circadian rhythm is known as the body’s sleep/wake cycle. It controls when people feel tired or sleepy. It’s natural for teenagers not to feel tired until 11 PM. Even so, if a diligent high school student manages to get in bed by 11, they’ll still miss the 8 hour minimum suggestion due to the fact that, between getting ready and the drive-time to school, many students can’t afford to sleep in until 7.
According to the National Sleep Foundation, the circadian rhythm sees two substantial dips in energy- once somewhere 2:00am and 4:00am, when people usually fast asleep, and again after lunchtime, around 1:00pm to 3:00pm. These dips in energy affect people much more strongly when they are already sleep-deprived. This is bad since students finally overcome their morning grogginess only to feel tired again when it comes to third block.
Teachers are also aware of the lack of sleep students are getting. Theology teacher Angela Lincoln tries to be mindful of student’s sleep when assigning homework, taking into account other classes and commitments outside of her class, and she says that she sets limits on how much homework she assigns her students.
While we hope that teachers can be cognizant of other classes, commitments, and sleep when assigning homework, students should also be intentional about finishing homework early, going to bed on time, and taking other measures to ensure they are well rested every day!
Check out this video for some tips on how to get a good night’s sleep