By Jess O’Connor
“I don’t sleep.” This is what sophomore Alyssa Goody said when asked how much sleep she got on a typical night. “I have sports, and then I get home and I have things other than sports, and then I get home at nine, and I eat dinner at nine, and then it’s like, ‘Oh, okay, it’s ten now, I have to do some homework.’”
According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, as well as almost every medical authority, teenagers should be getting nine hours of sleep. This is a number that is almost unheard of in high schools, where students that get seven hours are considered lucky.
Recently, schools have been noticing lack of sleep among their students, and SA is no exception.
“There are cases when people are falling asleep in class, and their heads are tipping back and forth,” said teacher Brandon Spars. “It’s really easy for a teacher to see that.”
Schools everywhere are becoming increasingly more aware of their sleep-deprived teenagers, and are even developing strategies on how to deal with what is now considered a legitimate problem in schools. But is it really a problem?
“Yeah, I think it’s a problem,” said freshman Clare Grossman. “Some of my friends will get three to five hours of sleep, and that is not good.”
Seniors Yzzy Mirabelli-Montan and Miranda Rush disagreed. “I think it takes its toll eventually, but for a while it’s pretty great,” Yzzy said. “It makes it easier to cry,” said Miranda, nodding her head in agreement, “… but it’s good, ‘cause it’s cathartic.”
This attitude towards sleep, said Brandon Spars, is natural for teenagers. “I think teenagers are programmed naturally to be very wide-awake around nine and ten o’clock, and that they’re going to go to sleep naturally at eleven-thirty.”
In an article for the Press Democrat written by Kerry Benefield, Dr. Leland Davis said the same thing. According to Davis, a pediatrician with Sutter Medical Group of the Redwoods, “teenagers have their own biorhythms that push their bodies to need later bedtimes and later waking hours.”
In response to this, some schools in the US have been starting classes an hour later, at nine o’clock instead of eight. To some students, later hours would be a welcome change.
“I’d like to sleep in an extra hour, that’d be nice,” said Junior Jonah Vogel. “I think it would be an experiment, but it would probably work.”
However, technology is said by some to be a major factor in the amount of sleep teenagers are getting nowadays.
“I think a lot of people stay up on social media, or […] looking at their phones, texting people,” said Clare.
Brandon Spars attributed sleepiness in the classroom to advancements in technology as well. “… I don’t know how much changing the start time would help a person like that, but I think those are people who would get an hour more sleep… Now, it’s pretty easy to just have a complete conversation with five different people into the wee hours of the morning.”
Should SA change its school hours to accommodate teenage sleep patterns, or should technology be restricted on a more individual, familial level? Some SA students say neither would help, and in fact offered an entirely different solution.
“I think that we [maybe] shouldn’t have an exploratory period, I think that time is more valuable to be getting more sleep,” said Sophomore Julia Schafer.
Clara Spars gave the same opinion. “… I realize that exploratories are important here and everything and they’re like an hour long but,” here she sighed and continued, “If we had that hour to sleep in it would make life a lot easier.” It should be noted that these individuals were interviewed separately, and came up with the same idea independently.
However it is dealt with, one thing is for certain: Yzzy Mirabelli-Montan, along with many teens, doesn’t plan on changing her sleeping habits any time soon. “I just don’t. Sleeping kind of bores me.”