Commentary: Adults Should Understand Lack of Sleep in Students

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Kimberlie Gray, Contributor

Sleep is needed in order for students to function properly. However, an average high school student doesn’t get enough sleep to maximize their learning in their school day. 

Starting school later than we do now would be fantastic. We should be able to start our school day later as long as we’re getting the necessary work done. However, not all people share this belief, and they blame the kids for our late night trends.

There are numerous reasons why it would be extremely difficult to change schools start time to a later. However, doing what is best for a teens development is worth the effort.

Studies have shown that kids with better sleep schedules have improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, and overall mental and physical health. Not getting enough sleep can lead to high blood pressure, obesity, and even depression according to hopskinsallschildren.org

According to Sleepfoundation, children aged 13 to 18 should get roughly eight to ten hours of sleep per night. Unfortunately, that rarely happens. One study found that only 15% of students report sleeping over eight and a half hours on school nights.

Most adults blame video games, Netflix, or just electronics in general for this sleep deficit, and they are not completely wrong. Electronics are one of the culprits for sleep deprivation, whether students want to acknowledge that or not. Teens who put down their smartphones an hour before bed gain an extra 21 minutes of sleep  according to Health and Sleep Foundation. These electronics could include their Xboxes, Ps4’s, Nintendos, social media or anything else. 

  However there are more causes than just electronic use. Children may suffer from insomnia, which is a sleep disorder that causes trouble falling asleep and staying asleep. It could also be their environment, maybe there is too much outside light for the student.  Even outside noises like passing trains or cars. Light sleepers can have a tough time sleeping due to little noises. Even trains can wake heavy sleepers. 

After school activities can also contribute to sleep deprivation. Homework, sports, part-time work and social commitments can cut into a teenager’s sleeping time according to betterhealth.vic.gov.

Since it is obvious that we will not be able to modify school start times in the near future, we need to address other ways to improve teens sleep times. 

In order to get more sleep, we need to look for ways to adjust our environments and to promote the proper amount of sleep. Simple things like dimming the lights and turning off all electronics at least an hour before bed will help. We can also limit caffeine intake or read a book. Boring textbooks can stimulate sleep in even the lightest sleeper.

Most of us wish that we could just start school later say start school at ten every day, but we also know this isn’t very likely. So trying to get more sleep seems like the best option.