Go to sleep

However students do it, a good night’s sleep is hard to come by

Mila Windell and Angela Choi

Branham Bruins are night owls.

Audrey Nguyen/Bear Witness

The recent COVID-19 crisis has created a new pandemic: chronically lethargic teens.

In a survey of 448 readers, 54% say they sleep around 6 to 8 hours a night, with nearly 30% saying they sleep between four to six hours. The lack of student’s sleep has been shown all over a popular Instagram account, @bruinnaps, which highlights students sleeping during class. The photos reveal a major problem within high schools across the nation: Students don’t get enough sleep.

According to many sources, including the National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, teens should be getting eight to 10 hours of sleep a night. But fewer than one-fourth of high school students are meet- ing even the minimum, according to the results of the most recent national Youth Risk Behavior survey, conducted every two years by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Meanwhile the amount of sleep recommended for an average high school student is around 8 to 10 hours a night.

The pandemic has altered Branham students’ sleep patterns and it has been a struggle to get back to a healthy routine. During distance learning, students said it was difficult to maintain a consistent schedule.

Many students lost time management and consistent sleep habits, staying up past midnight to chat with friends, waking up five minutes before school and falling asleep in class.

A night and day difference

Many factors play into one’s lack of sleep, and homework patterns are a major factor.

Sophomore Miles Duncan said he procrastinated on his homework, and it has affected his sleep schedule. He says that he delays working on it until very late at night. And when he does go to bed early, he plays on his phone for hours.

He comes to school having had not much sleep the night before.

“I always feel like I don’t want to be there,” Duncan said.

For sophomore Claire Luong, who sleeps six hours a night, balancing sleep and her homework has become a cycle of pushing her to-do list further back. However, when she does get enough sleep, she notices that she is much more productive throughout the day.

“I feel a little better,” Luong said. “I’ll feel more productive and then I’ll actually get work done.”

Her experience corresponds to national research, such as the American Psychological Association’s, which show that more sleep would make us happier and healthier.

When freshman Hazen D’Aurora sleeps more, she said she is able to improve many facets of her life at school.

“Definitely better focus,” D’Aurora said. “I feel rested. I get better at school, and I’m doing a lot more talking. I have a lack of social battery when I don’t get enough sleep.”

Unaware of sleep deficits

AP Psychology teacher Jen Ozdinski conducts a sleep survey every year, and she tells her students that they need 8 hours of sleep. Based on her current survey, which includes questions such as, “How many hours of sleep do you get on a weekend night?” and “Do you feel like not getting enough sleep on a school night has an ill effect on your day?” In each class, she only has had one or two students who get the sleep they need. Every year, the general student reaction is the same.

“They laugh like they know that they don’t get that amount of sleep,” Ozdinski said. “And so I just emphasize throughout the course how important sleep is to their health. I always come back throughout the school year to how important sleep is.”

The chronic sleep deprivation that high school students have been facing around the country has lowered academic performance, Assistant Principal Nikita Shah said. Students who sleepless are missing information and acting behavior. For those who act out, she’s been hearing a repeating refrain.

“‘I’m sorry, I was really tired. I wasn’t thinking straight,” Shah said. “I’ve heard it so many times.”

To improve sleep schedules, district nurse Debra Phalen suggests that students should develop routines that are consistent.

In order to experience a good night’s sleep, Phalen recommends exercising throughout the day, cutting out energy drinks, and not drinking liquids past 7 p.m. She hopes that students can improve on sleep schedules soon.

“I think it’s something we definitely need to look at and to focus on,” Phalen said. “I would say, if we don’t make some changes and make it a priority, it’s going to be a big problem.”