Stop being sleepless in school

My senior year of high school is here, and I’m going to make it the most memorable ever. I’m going to get some sleep!

Too many teenagers are victims of sleep deprivation. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens should sleep an average of 9.25 hours. But in 1998, 40 percent of teenagers were sleeping past 11 p.m. on school nights, and 25 percent were sleeping less than 6.5 hours.

With admission to colleges becoming more selective, the situation is most likely getting worse. Nine hours of sleep in high school is nearly impossible for students, but if everyone learns time management and doesn’t take too much on their plate, sleep is possible.

In high school, as students attempt to juggle early schooltimes, ever-increasing homework, extracurricular activities, jobs and late bedtimes (including all-nighters), it becomes harder to sleep the necessary hours.

A popular notion is that one can become accustomed to little sleep, but little sleep is just as bad as no sleep at all, according to a Reuters article last March on sleep deprivation. Individuals also differ in how much sleep they need. Thus, teens need to determine for themselves how much sleep they need to stay healthy.

Throughout my sophomore and junior years, I suffered from sleep deprivation. Sleeping an average of four to five hours each day, I was proud of my ability to sleep so little.

But I failed to notice how detrimental sleeping in class was. I remember that sometimes, half of the class would be sleeping, and now I feel horrible thinking of the frustration my teachers must have felt.

Obviously, many of my peers were also being deprived of sleep. A friend and I would actually call each other at 3 a.m. to discuss homework. It was insane, but I told myself that all my hard work would pay off.

I should have done what a classmate of mine did. She was one of the smartest people in my grade, yet she always went to bed around 10 or 11 p.m. and never fell asleep in class. All I got from sleep deprivation were chronic headaches, fatigue and stress.

In truth, we teenagers (and parents, too) know how to be successful high school students while catching the necessary zees, but not all of us actually do what we already know. It’s similar to wondering why you are having indigestion when you know that you’ve been eating a lot of junk food.

Many teenagers think they are being productive, but they spend more time doing things other than their duties, like homework. They watch their TV shows, talk on the phone, chat on-line and are slow to tackle their homework.

Those who form study groups end up goofing around, and when it’s 9 p.m., they realize that nothing has been accomplished. Once, I went to a friend’s house for a group project. The four of us started to make a plan for the project so that we could finish quickly, but we ended up listening to music and talking for an hour about stuff I can’t even remember. We could have done half of the project in that hour, but alas, an hour had been wasted.

All those little things that don’t seem to add up to much result in a great deal of wasted time –– and when it suddenly hits the student that none of the work is finished, it’s time to panic and it’s homework time until 3 a.m.

Procrastination is one of the biggest reasons for sleep deprivation. Assignments are put off until the last moment, and the night before the due-date is too late to ask the teacher for clarifications.

If students made sleeping a priority and worked according to their proper sleeping patterns, then they would be alert during class and actually hear what the teacher has to say, and even finish assignments in class before it becomes homework. It’s all a matter of work ethics.

High school’s important, but it isn’t important enough to lose sleep because of it. Sometimes, it becomes necessary to stay up a bit, but that shouldn’t be happening everyday. Students who do too much need to realize that they aren’t invincible and need to cut down.

Besides, the number of activities isn’t what matters; it’s the commitment to a few activities that colleges care about. Please give sleep the respect it deserves.

Now I need to make sure that I develop the proper work ethic. I wouldn’t want to not practice what I preach.

Sovereigna Jun attends Thomas Jefferson High School.

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