Are Teenagers Sleep Deprived?

The teenage years are very awful. There are rapid changes to your body. Five painful years of  acne, smells, hair and homework. As teenagers we have so much added responsibility, but we are strained of something, sleep. The main culprit for this is school, homework, and technology. A horrible but perfect storm.

All Junior High schools in our district, Gilbert Public Schools, start at eight-o-three A.M. The High Schools in our district start at seven-thirty A.M. That is unless you take “A” hour, an extra class that you take at the beginning of the day taken for more credit. Your day would day would start at the early time of six-thirty A.M. You heard me right, six-thirty A.M. I don’t know about you but that’s early. The recommended minimum amount of sleep a teen should get per night is nine hours. This poses the question do Greenfield students get enough sleep? I surveyed one-hundred students here on our campus. And sadly only fifteen students said they get about nine hours on average. Our teenage minds aren’t sleepy until around ten to eleven o’clock. If you go to bed at 11 but get have to get up for school at 6 then you are only seven hours of sleep per night, which is below the minimum. What if school started later? We would be able to sleep in more and wake up refreshed rather than getting out of bed half asleep and unfocused. Some schools have already started at delayed times such as Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming. Along with seeing the increase of attendance, test scores and decrease in depression symptoms: Jackson Hole High School found in a study a 70% decrease in the number of car accidents involving teen drivers. Not only do these early start times affect you. They affect you parents, your bus drivers, and everyone else in the community. I know what you’re thinking, “Woah woah slow down sleep leads to depression and car accidents !?” Yes they are linked. If only school started later. We would reach our nine hours of rest per night we need and we would be more focused. Start times can change; however, our biological sleep cycles cannot.

Another cause of bad sleep is homework. Not only are teens staying up until ten or later because of their biological clock. Teenagers are dog-piled by homework every day! Sometimes it seems like some teachers don’t realize that we are not just a math student or an english student. Gabbie, from The Gabbie Show on Youtube made a video in July of 2016 titled “Worst High School Teacher Rant”. In the video she talks about her Calculus teacher from her junior year. He would assign around two-hundred problems per night and no one in the class would finish it. Everyday when the students would say “this too much homework”, he would respond with “There are twenty-four hours in a day”. In the video Gabbie also goes into explaining the day of a high schooler to challenge the teacher’s twenty-four hours in a day saying. After listing sleep, school, homework, sports and chores she had a total of one hour left in a day. I’m not saying we should trash homework altogether.

As annoying it sounds we need homework. Ebbinghaus’s curve of forgetting shows how well we retain information (curve of forgetting shown below).

The curve of forgetting shows us why we need to study. After learning a topic in class, you will slowly forget the information over time. If the test were three weeks after initially  learning the topic you should review the topic three times. The first review should be minutes after the lesson. Then twenty-four hours after the lesson you should revisit your notes. Then two days after the lesson you should revisit it again and one more time before the test. Repetition is one of the best ways to remember something. So as bad as it sounds we need homework. We can’t completely trash homework, but we can reduce our workload. If we had less homework then we would get better sleep because we wouldn’t have to stay up late doing homework. My point is: we should decrease our homework intake so we would get better sleep.

We can also point a finger at technology. Let’s be honest we can’t fall asleep unless we scroll through Instagram, check Snapchat, text, tweet something, or whatever you do. Many people use sleeping apps to help them such as Calm, Pillow, Sleeptime, and Digipill. If you do use a sleep app you are still reliant on technology. Gracie Hull, an eighth grade student here at Greenfield, says that, “Some nights are worse than others. It just depends on how long I’m on my phone”. You may hit the hay around ten but be a awake and on your phone until eleven. I’m not going to ramble on and talk about how other people should change so teens can get more sleep, because, frankly, this one is on us. So turn off that phone get some sleep.

Now that I have convinced you that teenagers are sleep deprived, I ask, what does it mean to be “sleep deprived” and what are the consequences? Sleep deprivation is defined as lack of sleep. Sleep deprivation can put you at risk of: heart disease, heart attack, high blood pressure, stroke, diabetes, moodiness, clumsiness, dementia, and depression. So be safe and try to get enough sleep.

While school is faulted for having an early start time, it is as much our fault. Starting times, homework, and technology is the perfect storm for poor sleep. But which one has the greatest effect on your sleep? What do you think?


By Jordyn Carter

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