Many people seem to think sleep is not as crucial to their life as it truly is. One’s quality of life can be disrupted because of many different reasons; one – underestimated greatly – is sleep loss. Studying hours are continually increasing as students get older. Many of them struggle with sleep restriction by attempting to stretch their active capacity beyond their limits, compromising their nightly sleep. The need for sleep varies considerably between individuals, but according to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens should sleep 8–10 hours a night. However, research studies have shown that the average amount of sleep that teenagers are getting is between 7 and 7 ¼ hours. As a result, most adolescents are very sleep deprived, impacting aspects of their life like mood, behavior, cognitive ability, and academic performance.
Despite the many serious psychological effects of sleep deprivation, high school students do not get enough to perform at their maximum capacities. Loss of sleep can limit students’ ability to focus and learn and is additionally associated with an increased risk of chronic conditions: diabetes, obesity and poor mental health. Among high school students, 72.7% reported insufficient sleep, with 20% reporting sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night. The percentage of high school students who reported getting sufficient sleep dropped from 30.9% to 27.3% between 2009 and 2015, showing that the sleep deprivation continues to worsen (APTA.) Because teens sleep less, their academic performance is deemed lower than their potential, affecting their future academic life. Overtired students work slower than usual, having more difficulty remembering what they are learning about at the moment. Their tired brains have a harder time focusing: sleep interferes with the recall of long-term memories. Sleep-deprived students’ brains tend to lapse into brainwave patterns explaining why many tired students “space out” during class. Additionally, they tend to be more distracted, making more careless errors, and not focusing on class assignments. These effects project on their academic future and can have detrimental effects if poor sleeping becomes a habit.
In Scheck Hillel, students tend to get an average amount of sleep every night, but some students indeed suffer from sleep deprivation. Alan Wainer says he “can never focus in school” because he “always stays up unreasonably late.” He continues saying that it is hard for him to keep his eyes open during class towards the end of the day, and he can’t necessarily remember every detail he learned in his last classes. These effects are small compared to others, but they can be greatly magnified if students continue this sleepless ritual. Now that classes have an optional online option, many students who have been contact traced and sent home report they get more sleep. Avi Lalo says he can “wake up half an hour later than usual because there’s no need to drive to school” and that the “half-hour of sleep is so much more than it sounds.” Scheck Hillel students have been getting a couple of minutes of extra sleep every morning, and they claim that this betters their concentration for the day. Lily Levy says she doesn’t “get tired by the end of the day anymore” proving how sleeping at least 30 minutes at night more can drastically improve many students’ academic performance.
Overall, it is clear that sleep deprivation can be a serious problem that causes fatigue, failure, and deconcentration. Many research results show that sleep deprivation not only causes a disruption in the circadian rhythm of an individual’s brain but can extend to affect the performance of that individual. Through multiple results, it has been shown that high schoolers sleep less and less every night, and could have detrimental effects over the years. Now in quarantine, online classes allow students to get an extra half an hour or hour of sleep before class starts since the drive to school is eliminated from their routine. Students now claim that this extra hour of sleep can dramatically aid them throughout the day. Although sleep is underrated in teenagers’ minds, it should be significantly encouraged to them as it promotes – amongst many other things – academic improvement.