Have you ever slept too little? If you answered yes, you would recognize that sleep habits are critical to how a student’s day proceeds. High school students, especially here at Ridgewood High School, often get an inadequate amount of sleep due to the rigors of being in school and pressure from after-school activities.
One benefit that comes from good sleeping habits is the ability to maximize efficiency throughout the day. After sleeping unbothered during the night, the likelihood that you will be tired the following day decreases greatly. This increase in attentiveness leads to an increase in focus, which is crucial to learning new concepts and grasping difficult material. The efficiency of work that stems from a sufficient amount of sleep can also lead to more effective time management skills, which play a key role in future success.
Another benefit that comes with good sleeping habits is health related. Studies show that being well rested can help prevent heart problems, diabetes, and obesity. In today’s society, obesity is a continually growing issue. As of 2016, 35.7% of Americans are obese compared to 13.4% in 2000. This statistic is shocking — the percent of Americans that are obese has more than doubled in the past 15 years. A plausible cause for this increase may be attributed to sleep deprivation. This is a huge problem because obesity can lead to strokes and high blood pressure.
And let’s be honest. It is unlikely that a student obtains the perfect amount of sleep every day. It is recommended that teens get seven to nine hours of sleep per day: this means that they should go to sleep by at least twelve or even at nine depending on how early they wake up. With the amount of tests, quizzes, and assignments we receive on top of our extracurricular activities, it is nearly impossible to achieve this feat. Not only do these deadlines and assessments give us stress, the lack of sleep does too.
But what is stress? Mr. Quirk, who teaches the Stress Management class offered at Ridgewood High School, says that “stress is what happens to you when something you care about is at stake.” As taught in Mr. Quirk’s class, acute stress can be the underlying cause of many ailments such as depression, obesity, and high blood pressure. It has even been found that extreme instances of stress can shut down the immune system. Sounds pretty intimidating, right?
So what’s a solution? Ridgewood High School has implemented a bimonthly sleep-in day that gives students an extra hour to sleep while keeping the same end time. Although no data has been collected yet, it has been found that in addition to the health benefits, getting sufficient sleep is imperative to retaining information learned throughout our rigorous school day. Studies have shown that while we sleep, our brains process and consolidate our memories from the day. Essentially, this means that learning will be more efficient as our brains have more time to store our memories from short term to long term.
Ultimately, it is really a question of whether students will take advantage of the extra sleep or if they will decide to procrastinate an extra hour. However, it is definite that losing sleep causes stress. So, it is important to ask yourself — how much do you sleep?
Graphic: Erin Kim