Losing sleep to sit in class

Students should be able to take the day off and sacrifice class to hit the snooze button

By Kira Garlick

Beep. Beep. The student’s old enemy — the alarm clock. School starts in less than 30 minutes and if you don’t get up now, you’ll be late. Grabbing lunch and finding the door takes every bit of mental effort. As you fight to keep your eyes open, you wonder if it’s even worth going to school today.

Even though school start times are not changing, teachers and administration still expect kids to be punctual and fully awake.

A teenager waking up at 7 a.m. is identical to a 50-year-old getting out of bed at 5 a.m., according to Newscientist.com. The early 7 a.m. wake-up call and after-school activities extending far past the last bell only add to the list of collateral damage a high school student endures.

Not only are teens falling asleep but teachers are tired of half asleep students as well. A poll by Sleep Foundation found 28 percent of students fall asleep at school at least once within the week.

Of course, grades and massive piles of homework get in the way of precious snooze time. Typically, teens work on homework for 3.5 hours a night, according to LA times.

Sleep-deprived teens are nothing new. The hormone melatonin, which regulates the inner biological clock, is released later in adolescents than in fully-developed adults, making it harder for teens to fall asleep before 10:30 p.m., according to the New York Times.

ADHD, diabetes, depression and heart disease are just a few of the health problems that can result from continuously disrupted sleep patterns, according to Studentpulse.org.
Some families may believe perfect attendance translates to perfect grades. However, forcing sleepy students to learn doesn’t necessarily make them smarter. According to Harvard University, the ability to pay attention and focus becomes harder when you are tired, as drowsiness makes it difficult to receive information.

Parents and teachers should be more lenient about their child’s attendance and realize that sleep deprivation should be treated the same as any cold or injury.

Students also need to realize how important it is to catch up on their zzz’s. All-nighters were once awe-inspiring acts to boast about but are now losing their novelty, with 60 percent of college students claiming to have undertaken a single night of total sleep deprivation, according to a study published in the journal of Behavioral Sleep Medicine.

Sleep deprivation may not have the same immediate recognition as a cold, but long-term effects of losing sleep can be even more serious.

The value of a nap shouldn’t be ignored. According to the Sleep Foundation, taking a 20- to 30-minute nap is psychologically beneficial and can increase alertness. With demanding courses, it may be smart to hop on the (sleep) train.

I have had many classes in which I do nothing but sit and listen to the teacher lecture. In these classes, the ones where I’m banging my head on the desk in lack of energy, the lessons can be easily made up at home on my own time.

Of course, the school board cannot let students begin skipping first and second period. An optimal solution to help lower the amount of sleepy students is to fill up later classes and have fewer scheduled in the morning.

Even though teachers cannot allow students to continuously come in late, sleep deprivation should be accepted as a legitimate reason for allowing a day in class to be sacrificed for a couple more hours in bed.

The mental health of the student body is being overlooked. Students are constantly falling asleep at their desk, getting nothing done. Being half-asleep at a desk is not as productive as hitting the hay when it comes to a student’s sanity and overall productivity.