The National Sleep Foundation recommends that high school aged people sleep at least 8-10 hours a night. However, when a day is only 24 hours long, that can prove a challenging task. Sleep deprivation is one challenge many teens face in the ever-busy 21st century.
Not resting enough is only an annoyance if it happens once in awhile– but habitually not sleeping enough can be devastating to a person’s well-being, wrecking their ability to be productive, and generally making them irritable and less pleasant to be around.
High school students who intend to go to college are plagued by a vague anxiety. Exactly what college admissions officers want on applications is often unclear. As a result, many students take on a huge workload comprised of many advanced courses and many clubs and other activities, as well as continuing to spend time with friends and pick up their first real jobs. When high schoolers become overwhelmed with the sheer amount they feel must be done, it’s often their sleep schedule that suffers.
Despite student’s beliefs as to how tough they and their mind are, sleep deprivation notably impacts all people’s performance in school. Someone who develops a habit of depriving themselves of sleep will likely wind up with a GPA a few points lower than how they could have done had they slept well. When students are sleep deprived, motivation falls off a cliff. Those who believe that they can “tough it out” or “suck it up” are deluding themselves.
Much popular opinion has been written in support of a shift to the time school starts. Currently, Leesville Road High School runs a clean 7 hour schedule — The first bell rings at 7:18 a.m. and the dismissal bell rings at 2:18 p.m. The justification for this, routinely provided by the school system, is that this opens up time for students to complete extracurricular activities and still make it home in time for dinner. However, some critics claim that most high-school-aged people claim that students simply cannot perform so early in the morning. Thus, forcing people to work in a half-functional state on the premise that they can work more is a pointless, self defeating policy.
However, we must consider the consequences of such a shift in timetables, namely students who participate in sports. If school was shifted to begin at 8:48 a.m. and end at 3:48 p.m., some students may not be able to catch a break until as late as 7:30 PM or even later. That combined with regular habits of eating, showering, and doing homework, means that students spend their whole days with only a few minutes of free time. Additionally, there are students who take regular advantage of the 2:18 end time to both rest and relax as well as study for grueling AP courses.
In the end, some students end up taking out workloads of up to 16 hours, combining school, sports, and study in excess, leaving them only a mere 8 hours to relax and sleep. Students may choose to spend their precious free time watching a TV show they enjoy instead of going straight to sleep. Who in their right mind could blame them? Not only do people need to sleep, they also need to relax.
The conclusion we can draw is that there is no method to satisfy all parties. Students who place extracurricular activities at the top of their priorities would collapse under a change to the current system, whereas students who try to focus more on earning a top GPA suffer under the current system. As much as all students hate receiving this advice from people who have been through school before, the only solid solution is for the sleep deprived person to start turning in earlier.