High schoolers wake up early, go to school to sit in classes, take tests, listen to teachers lecture, do work until the end of the day, stay after to practice their respective sport or attend a club meeting, head home, and then stay up for hours working on homework before going to bed anywhere from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. before waking up early and starting the process all over again. The lack of sleep among high schoolers is an ever-growing problem that appears to continuously be “brushed under the rug.” There is a reason that students are getting in trouble for falling asleep in class, and it has nothing to do with the monotonous droning of their teacher (well, at least not all the time).
In today’s society, an overwhelming majority of high school/college students do not get the recommended eight to ten hours of sleep. According to many studies, only about 12 percent of high school students reported getting 8.5 hours of sleep each night. Nine hours (even eight hours) just simply sounds insane to most people (how could someone possibly sleep for nine hours?). However, nine hours of sleep only sounds ridiculous because very few people get close to six hours of sleep. Going to school is stressful enough in and of itself, but then having teachers add about two hours of homework for each subject, intensifies the stress factor. Staying up for eight extra hours each night cuts students’ sleep time short, and adding stress to the equation only shortens their sleep time even more.
This lack of sleep has many effects on the mental health of today’s teenagers. As a high schooler myself, I can contest to the detrimental effects of only getting about five-six hours every night. The added stress of completing homework assignments that are due the next day, or thinking about homework assignments that are due the next week, just makes trying to sleep even more difficult. There have been way too many times in my life, and in other people’s lives, where we’ve sat slumped at our desks crying because the pressure of staying up late and finishing homework becomes too much to handle. By forcing ourselves to stay up later so we can complete the plethora of assignments that are due the next day, we are putting education over mental health. We wake up exhausted and unrefreshed; going to school in that kind of mind frame only makes things worse, we spend the day thinking of going home and sleeping instead of concentrating on the teachers and our classwork.
According to “Homeroom Zombies” by Lawrence Epstein, more than 50 percent of high schoolers reported getting seven or fewer hours of sleep, and about 20 percent get five hours or less each night. This lack of sleep leads to decreased concentration during class, increase in skipping classes, poorer moods, lower homework scores, increased anxiety and even depression. If these problems are finally being noticed, then why hasn't the solution been found? A few solutions have been identified, but many haven’t been universally put into place.