To Sleep, Or Not To Sleep…Is That A Question?

Over the next few weeks, “The Talon” will be releasing a series of stories regarding depression, anxiety, obesity, nutrition, sleeping habits, and time management. Sources were given the option to remain anonymous, as the topics are incredibly personal. Please be advised, some of the published stories may be disturbing to some readers.

By Jenna Poppell

According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio, teenagers get an average of seven and a half hours of sleep, when eight to 10 is recommended in order for the brain to fully function during the day. This is concerning due to the fact that the lack of sleep students receive could impact the body’s physical growth, as well as brain development. 

To get a better understanding of the accuracy of the data, I asked Oak Hall senior Maria Prieto about her sleep schedule. Prieto admitted to getting only four to five hours of sleep each night because she stayed awake, trying to accomplish multiple tasks. “Homework, college applications, I just don’t have another time to do it because I have so many other things I have to worry about,” she said. Prieto explained that while she is able to stay awake at the beginning of the day, she finds herself slowly becoming increasingly tired by the end.

Like Prieto, junior Adel Acs only gets around four to six hours of sleep per night due to homework and sports. “I’ve definitely gotten less sleep throughout the years…junior year, I feel like I’ve gotten less sleep then sophomore year, but freshman year was okay,” she noted. 

Sophomore Amanda Malnik has gone the opposite way with her sleep schedule. “I think I’ve gotten actually more sleep sophomore year because I’ve prioritized sleep more this year and managed my time better, so I go to sleep earlier,” she said. Malnik has also found that it is usually homework that keeps her up late but tries to get around six to seven hours of sleep every night. 

Some Oak Hall parents feel that lack of sleep is becoming an increasingly serious issue. “To be honest, both of my children that are in high school do not get the recommended amount of sleep,” said one Lower and Upper School mother, noting how her teenage children try to sleep for at least seven hours per night, but it could always be less than that. “They typically use the weekends to catch up if that is possible,” she continued. In her opinion, time management is a large contributor to lack of sleep, so she tries to teach her kids the importance of balancing their time. “Participating in sports and keeping up a rigorous schedule is a challenge,” the mom of three said. “There are some nights that require less sleep because of a late practice and then a lot of homework…time management is an important role and is something that most kids start to learn in high school,” she explained. She tries to get her kids to be independent and leaves them room to make their own choices, since it is a part of learning and growing up. “One’s bedtime is not dictated by [their parents], however, if one of the kids is having an issue with school or we realize that they are not able to make a smart choice about bedtime, then we will step in and help them and provide direction,” she mentioned.

While there have been numerous studies, leading to numerous recommendations as to how many hours a student should sleep, it seems even the minimal amount cannot be accomplished. Many sleep specialists have found that technology plays a large role in what keeps teens up at night. “I use my computer a lot for schoolwork and after I finish my homework, I’m awake because I’m not tired, so I stay up later,” said Prieto. Malnik also explained that she uses her phone to relax before she goes to sleep, which can sometimes make it harder. Acs concluded that for the most part, technology was not a huge factor in what keep her up, although it can be a distraction. 

Like the majority of kids my age, I don’t get enough sleep. While it is sometimes due to too much homework, it is also because of procrastination. I feel like I prioritized sleep more freshman and sophomore year than the current school year, gradually getting less hours over time. Playing sports also has an effect because after practice, I am tired and less motivated to start my required homework. I have always had trouble sleeping, yet no trouble staying up, but it has been harder to get up every morning due to the lack of sleep I get each night. While some classmates get a caffeine boost from coffee or soda, I don’t partake, mostly because I sleep in so much, sometimes there is barely enough time to eat breakfast. It would be unfair to speak for the rest of my generation, but for me, technology is the largest interference with my sleep schedule. It is easy, especially with the way society is changing, to get distracted by all the apps and games. This doesn’t mean that technology is evil, just that it challenges the younger generation, as well as older generations to work harder on time management. I think it is important to take breaks from all the screens, and even homework, in order to take care of yourself. I also believe it is incredibly important that parents and teachers remind kids that sleep should be a top priority in their life.