Making Sleep a Priority

Junior Caroline Thummel tries to catch up on sleep during North time.

Seventy-three percent of teenagers in today’s world don’t get nearly enough sleep as they should daily, according to a survey study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Protection. The same study reported that health and behavioral problems including diabetes, obesity and poor academic performance are increasing among adolescents due to lack of sleep. 

Mr. Sickel, choir teacher at BVN, notices differences in students who have gotten enough sleep versus students who have not. Mondays are the days where lack of sleep among students is the most noticeable.  Being a choir teacher, Mr. Sickel says it is easy to tell who hasn’t gotten enough sleep just from looking at his student’s physical states when they’re getting ready to sing. 

“I can tell when a student hasn’t gotten enough sleep by their posture, the way they enter the room, lack of facial expression, and things like that,” Sickel said. “ I can especially tell when a student is tired when the choir world begins and we start singing.”

The National Sleep Foundation says the reason a majority of students don’t get enough sleep is due to stress and anxiety. Teenagers are supposed to get 8-10 hours of sleep each night, but many students fail to get six or seven on busy nights. The National Sleep Foundation also says two of the main factors contributing to stress in students are homework loads and extracurricular activities being hard to balance with sleep. Junior Leah Perila says she often struggles with maintaining this balance.

“I would say that I get about six hours of sleep per night, and that’s usually not enough. I find myself becoming tired in class and throughout the day, and it’s hard to keep focused,” Leah said. “I have gotten used to it a little because I’ve been doing that for the past few years as well.”

In addition to overwhelming schedules, studies also show that cell phones and social media are also big contributors to lack of sleep. The blue light from cell phones has been proven to make falling asleep harder, according to Blue light increases alertness and can reset the body’s internal clock to a later time, which leads to sleep deprived nights for teenagers. Leaving cell phones downstairs is strongly suggested by professionals to encourage better sleep.

Constant dings and vibrations throughout the night create a lighter sleep, and getting a deep sleep is hard to do.  Dr. Kenney, BVN’s school psychologist, believes the amount of sleep most teens currently get is a huge problem and disconnecting from social media at night would make a world of difference. 

“I think we need to preach more balance and truly disengage from our electronics as well. And realize it’s okay; when you wake up in the morning, all those messages will still be there,” Dr. Kenney says. “If you can shut your phone off and not take it in the bedroom with you and go to bed at a reasonable time, it would make a huge difference.”

Getting a good night of sleep is hard for high school students to achieve many nights during the school year, but starting good habits during the week to encourage sleep can help many teens through their busy lives.

Tips on Getting Better Sleep:

  • Exercise regularly- best way to sleep better and almost halves the amount of time it takes to fall asleep
  • Increase white light (sunlight) during the day and decrease blue light at night
  • Do not drink caffeine or sugary drinks at night
  • Do not eat late at night
  • Optimize your bedroom environment by setting the room at a moderate temperature and minimizing outside noise
  • Try to relax and clear your mind throughout the day so your brain is relaxed by the time you go to bed