By Maia DiFiglia
Today’s teenagers are not getting enough sleep. According to Nationwidechildrens.org, an average teenager should be getting between 7 and 7 ¼ hours of sleep. Many believe they should actually be getting between 9 and 9 ½ hours a night. There are several proven reasons why teenage students are not getting enough sleep: shifts in sleep schedule, early high school start times, and social and school obligations. So, what can students do to ensure they have healthy sleeping habits?
A lack of sleep heavily impacts one's mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, and ability to drive, according to Nationwide Children's Hospital. When students do not receive enough sleep, it is definitely noticeable. From personal experience, students tend to receive the least sleep on the nights before exams. Most often it is because students are anxiety ridden with pre-test stress. Teachers and parents tend to assume that students get so little sleep due to procrastination when, in actuality, students are getting home late after extracurricular activities and are just beginning their homework late in the evening.
OBHS students have expressed that they are exhausted and would do anything to receive a period to sleep during the school day. Most students say that their lack of sleep is due to massive amounts of homework and school assignments. One OBHS student states, “Can you tell I’m sleep deprived? See the bags under my eyes?”
So what are some solutions to this problem? The most advertised solution is making the school day begin later. Many oppose this idea because dismissal times would also have to be later in the day, which would further delay after school extracurricular activities. NHS Choices notes that alternate options include limiting screen time, creating a different sleeping environment, and avoiding procrastination of school assignments. These solutions are easier said than done, and cutting all of these factors out of a high school student’s life are nearly impossible.
Another OBHS student says, “It's hard because I take many rigorous courses, and when I'm up all night studying I normally lose track of time, resulting in my not getting enough sleep. Which affects me the following day, leaving me exhausted in class.”
These suggested solutions seem very hard to implement, so what are the most reasonable solutions? Getting into a good routine or cutting caffeine out of a student’s diet seems the most realistic. Some solutions are easier to incorporate than others. If students can get into a steady routine every night, it can directly affect their sleep schedule. If students gradually integrate these mini solutions instead of making large lifestyle changes, they’ll be more likely to start receiving a better night’s rest.
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