Sleep, Stress, Repeat
Student Sleep Affects Performance and Attitude
November 2, 2017
Sleep Deprived Students
Pick two of the following: good grades, a social life, enough sleep. More often than not, sleep is what people choose to sacrifice.
On average, Prep students get six hours of sleep a night. Compare this to the amount of sleep teenagers should be getting: nine hours. It is clear that something must change. Most teenagers have hectic schedules. From school to extra-curriculars to homework, the stress can sometimes be unbearable, taking a toll on the amount of sleep a student gets. Julia Ribas ’18 believes that this lack of sleep affects the quality of a student’s work, especially on tests. She says, “If I don’t get enough sleep the night before a test, then I don’t do as well”.
Lauren Mulligan ’20 concurs with this statement, saying, “If I have a test first thing in the morning, my thought process gets mucky and it’s hard for me to do things I’m normally good at.”
Is there a fix for this sleep dilemma? Ribas asks for help from teachers. She believes that it is important for teachers to know about their students, how they are getting their work done, and how they are learning. She thinks that Prep really challenges its students with time management, and it is not the responsibility of the teachers to manage their students, but it would be helpful if teachers were involved because it is comforting knowing you are not alone.
Teenagers are expected to excel at school work, participate in extra-curricular activities, have social lives, and get enough sleep, but they cannot have them all. Mulligan comments, “As teenagers it’s really important to have a social life, we live stressful lives right now so it’s good to have a release.”
Cody Dotson ’21 explains his reasoning behind prioritizing grades and social life over sleep. He says getting good grades will help you throughout life because “it prepares you for the future and helps you build a path for yourself.” Dotson also thinks that due to the amount of school work Seattle Prep gives he “needs some breaks to hang out with friends and communicate with people.”
He thinks the two biggest reasons students do not get enough sleep is because of procrastination and extracurricular activities. He says procrastination causes a nasty cycle of stress that continuously makes you further and further behind on homework. Dotson thinks extra-curriculars cause students to start homework later and therefore, have to take more time out of their sleep schedule to finish their homework.
Late starts seem to be a saving grace to Prep students. Ribas says that late starts save her, and she even plans her sleep schedule around late starts. Late starts give students an average of 1-2 extra hours of sleep which can be vital to get through a school day. Ribas also appreciates the school day being shorter.
Lauren Mulligan ’20 sums up the feelings of most Prep students when she simply says, “I’m tired”.
Why Sleep? Lilly T (feature)
Teenagers: so opinionated, so full of potential, so angsty, and so… tired. Walking on to the Seattle Prep campus in January can feel akin to walking onto the set of “The Walking Dead.” Between schoolwork, sports, and family- who can find the time to sleep eight hours a night? And why should you? The Panther set out to find out why teenagers need to sleep so much from the most qualified people around: Prep science and health teachers.
Why we sleep isn’t a question that most of us think about. Sleep is something instinctive to us; when we sleep more we feel better and vice versa. Unfortunately, there is no satisfying answer to this simple question. “No one really knows” says Science Teacher Mr. Meza. “There is not a single scientist who can say why we sleep.”
He explained that though we don’t know for sure, theories have attempted to explain the reason. “One competing theory is [sleep is] where you’re putting together your long-term memory. Another is that it allows body parts to shut down and not use as much energy so that they can repair. But there’s no way for us to 100% really know that.”
What scientists do know is what happens when humans don’t get enough sleep. Meza said “When we don’t sleep enough we see lack of memory recall, we see irritability, we see hunger, and we see a tendency to carb crave.”
It is fair to say that most Prep students have experienced at least one of these symptoms at some point in their high school careers. Meza also remarked that because of the vast amount of options offered at Prep, students tend to overwhelm themselves with work. “It’s one thing to say, ‘you can choose fifty different things’ when our student population will choose fifty different things, so how do we get them to choose appropriately within a framework of balance?” Indeed, most balance can be an elusive concept for many high schoolers
Sleep is often seen as a necessary sacrifice when compared with other aspects of life. According to the National Sleep Foundation, most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights. Meza summed the importance of sleep well when he said, “Why do I think that its important? Oh my god, I just think about being an adolescent. That’s a tough time in life. “
How to Be a Morning Person
Waking up in the morning is one of the hardest parts of the day, but unfortunately a requirement. Here are some tips to make mornings better:
- Don’t wake up during a REM cycle
Waking up during a REM cycle or stage three in a person’s sleep cycle can and in most cases will make them feel tired and groggy. This is because the REM sleep and stage three of the sleep cycle are the deepest part of sleep. To avoid this, and feel less tired in the morning, people can use a sleep calculator or alarm such as sleepyti.me or the Sleep Cycle Alarm Clock. These websites/apps calculate when to go to bed or wake up in order to avoid waking up in the middle of a REM cycle.
- Set alarm to favorite song
By doing this, students may wake up light and happy with their favorite song playing in the background. This helps them get excited for the day and wake up a little. To take it one step further, having their alarm across the room will make them physically get up to turn it off.
- Make bed!
Although this is something small, once the bed is made in the morning people will feel they have already accomplished one thing, causing them to feel more productive the whole day. And they get to come home to a nice clean bed!
- Prep before bed
Figure out what to wear the next day, and better yet, set it out! This will make it easier to get up and go and it will save time in the morning. Other ways to prepare the night before include make or plan breakfast, make lunch for the next day; pack bags; and take a shower at night.
Students Find Themselves in Strange Sleeping Circumstances
Sleep is a something all students need. How do people combat the need for sleep despite not having enough time? People fall asleep in some strange places. Seattle Prep students shared a few stories about the strange places they have fallen asleep.
Nic Welp ‘20: “It was 3am and I just had got home from Germany. I took a shower, closed my eyes, and forty five minutes later I woke up and the shower was still running.”
Will Forrester ‘18: “I was at a friends house and we stayed up until 4am, then I fell asleep under a desk.”
Orlo Singletary ‘18: “We were in Whistler and it was really early when we went up to the ski. I was tired and put my head down on the gondola. My friends choose not to wake me up so I was woke up at the bottom by an employee. The next time I saw them was at lunch, I was really mad.”
Clayton Thompson ‘18: “I was at my uncle’s house for Super Bowl 48 and after we won I was really tired, so I just fell asleep on the dog bed.”
Ali Willing ‘20: “One day my dog got a new dog bed, it was pretty big, and looked pretty comfortable. My dog happened to be asleep on the bed though. So to test it out I fell asleep on my dog.”
Lauren Mulligan ‘20 and Roxanne Anderson ‘20: “We were dress shopping at Nordstrom for last years homecoming. We got tired and took a nap in the dressing room. When we woke up we went back to dress shopping.”
Karl Kammerick ‘20: “We had just gotten a new cot in our garage and I was testing it out. Once I closed my eyes I actually fell asleep. It is like my super power I can fall asleep anywhere.”
Naderi Tweedy ‘18: “I was at my friend’s house and we were playing hide and go seek. I hid in a closet and it was getting really late. I closed my eyes and the next thing I knew it was morning and she still hadn’t found me in the closet.”