Falling Asleep in Class

Aldo Barajas, Staff Writer

There’s always that one guy in first period who, just as the teacher begins the new lecture, starts to lay their head on their makeshift, wadded sweatshirt pillow and doze off. The National Sleep Foundation has conducted many sleep surveys and found that the average teenager needs nine to nine and a quarter hours of sleep per night in order to function best, yet teens always seem so tired at school and complain about never getting enough sleep. So what’s the realistic number of hours a teen gets each night?

In a survey conducted of a random sample of sixteen students, only one reported an average bedtime earlier than ten. The latest average bedtime reported was by Senior Jayce Kemp at 2:30 am. Reasons for such a late bedtime he says includes, “Homework, insomnia, practice, hunger, and thoughts” and goes on to explain that, “We’re expected to go to school for 8 hours, do homework for 4-6, leaving 10-12 hours for sleep, while doctors recommend 8-10. So we have 0-2 hours for anything that we actually want to do.” Half of the students surveyed reported large amounts of homework being the main factor behind their not being able to go to bed earlier than they do currently. Five also reported sports and work as after school commitments that help add to the lateness of their bedtime.10 of the 16 students reported from a scale of 1 to 10 that they were above a five on how tired they feel at school as well.

This poses the question, does school set unrealistic expectations for students and their sleep? An overwhelming majority with 13 of the 16 students say yes! Even Senior Justin Comer admits that even though, “[school’s expectations] don’t really affect me…I know people who come home at like 11:00 pm after school activities.” Senior Chris Sutton says, “Homework always affects what time I go to bed…some nights you may be up until 1 doing homework.” Since coming home to so much homework after school is such a huge problem for so many students that makes people wonder if the large quantity can be helped. Senior Kris Carrithers says that homework is for the most part reasonable but, “[homework] can stockpile sometimes because teachers don’t communicate on when to give big assignments.” Many studies has also been done to verify the importance of practicing skills and proving that homework is often a successful tool, but perhaps given in such large quantities, it defeats the purpose. If a student is loaded down with an away sports game after school that doesn’t end until 9:00, a drive that puts them home at 11, and 3 hours of homework from teachers, that’s already setting them up for a minimum 2:00 am bedtime. Sleep has been proven to help memory, relieve stress on the mind and body, and is crucial to the everyday functioning of human beings. By being set up for failure before students have even woken up and started their day, they can’t be expected to function at their highest performance ability running on less than half the required hours of sleep to achieve such a standard.