Wake up call: students need more sleep

The majority of middle school students aren’t getting the needed nine hours of sleep per night, so many students are tired at school (Photo by Emily Forgash).

“I’m so tired” is a phrase heard often throughout the halls of ASL. In a survey sent to ASL middle school students, 88 percent of students confessed to often feeling tired during the school day. At school, students need to be alert and well-rested, but this is unfortunately not the case for most middle school students at ASL. The question is: Why are middle school students so tired?

During middle school years, students undergo a great deal of changes psychologically and physically, and this relates to their sleep habits. One of the factors that contributes to people’s levels of sleepiness is the 24 hour clock inside the body which controls people’s circadian rhythms. This internal clock tells the body when it is time to sleep and when it is time to wake up.

Starting in middle school, teenagers’ circadian rhythms are delayed two hours: this means students want to go to sleep later and wake up later. Many students said that they don’t feel tired until about 11:00 pm, and they then have to wake up early to go to school. This routine makes it impossible for students to get enough sleep each night.

Although many deny it, teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep. They are growing in so many ways during these years, and their bodies cannot handle everything without enough sleep.

A student survey showed that only 32 percent of students get enough sleep in the middle school, while the other 68 percent of students are getting eight hours or less sleep on school nights. Students’ reasoning for their lack of sleep includes homework, extra-curricular activities, and being on their devices.

Eighth grader Isabelle Laxer said, “As someone who gets six to seven hours of sleep if I’m lucky…. I think kids are stressed and under a lot of pressure.” Middle school students have a lot on their plate, but sleep simply cannot be the first thing they sacrifice.

Many students reported feeling lethargic at school, and their lack of sleep can make them temperamental. Students also said that they can’t focus, and their work ethic decreases when they are tired. However, there are solutions to their tiredness.

A lot of students try to play catch up on their sleep on the weekends, but this is not an effective solution. By sleeping in very late on weekends, teens just damage their circadian rhythms further. Also, in the mornings, students may try to hit the snooze buttons on their alarms a few times, but this also messes up teens’ internal clocks and makes it harder for them to wake up.

Students need to have consistent sleep schedules to follow throughout the week giving them at least nine hours of sleep per night. Homework shouldn’t be an issue for students unless they procrastinate, and teachers are only supposed to assign 30 minutes of homework per night at ASL.

If middle school students are getting enough sleep, they should be able to focus and get their work done well before bedtime. Additionally, students need to exercise during the day as this will help them feel tired at the proper hour. Furthermore, the screen brightness of students’ devices has been scientifically proven to delay their sleep cycle even more. Devices are also distracting, so students should put them away at night. Alternatively, some devices have a night-mode option, which makes the screen less harmful to student’s sleep cycles.

Sleep is often labelled as a waste of time. However, from strength, to concentration, to mood, and to academic performance, getting enough sleep affects many aspects of students’ days.  “You snooze, you lose” is a common expression, but in fact, if you snooze, you win.

About Liz Merryweather ('21)

Features Editor (2016-2017)

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