If you don’t snooze, you lose

Becca M.

Homework is the name and procrastination is the game. Scrolling through Twitter or Snapchatting friends while avoiding responsibilities until the last moment has become my routine. Staying up into the wee hours of the morning trying to do homework may seem like an occasional act, but for some, like myself, it’s typical to happen every night.

Social media is one of the many causes of sleep deprivation, which is a condition that occurs when you don’t get enough quality sleep. Additional causes can include stress, anxiety, school activities, homework, video games, and simply procrastination.

“I feel like it’s mainly our own faults for not getting enough sleep, but for kids in many activities, it can be overwhelming considering they have less time to work, and it affects kids who desire accomplishment even more,” junior Wesley U. said.

The issue of sleep deprivation skyrockets during the school year, and the effects are more drastic than simply being a little drowsy the next day.

“Sometimes [sleep deprivation] is a vicious cycle and it’s hard to get caught up when you get in a hole. I think that’s why it is such a problem,” middle school social studies teacher Lisa Bales said.

Senior Maria F. can relate. Since the school year began, Maria has been struggling with sleep deprivation. Maria said she only averages four to six hours of sleep a night due to working two or three nights during the school week. Maria is one of many students who is accustomed to going to work after school, coming home, and staying up late to do homework.

“You’re just so used to doing your things in routine, like slacking off during Access or slacking off a little bit during classes,” Maria said. “You’re just used to that routine of doing everything at the last minute at night, or getting up early to do it right away in the morning or right before classes. It’s definitely hard to get out of that routine.”

A good night’s sleep is an estimated nine to eleven hours for children in school and seven to eight hours for adults, according to the Mayo Clinic. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that nearly 63 percent of teens get less than eight hours of sleep per night.

A survey was performed in our own middle and high school regarding students’ own sleeping habits. According to the 160 students who responded, 58 percent get less than the recommended eight hours of sleep per night during the week.

Another survey was administered to the teachers with 28 replying. During the week, 82 percent of teachers get less than eight hours of sleep.

Studies show that getting a good night’s sleep improves concentration, helps enhance learning and problem-solving skills, and maintains the fat-burning systems that regulate body weight, according to the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute.

“Sleep is very important because a lot of people fall asleep in their classes and that’s why people fail classes because they don’t pay attention,” Maria said. “They are just tired. They just fall asleep or just don’t care.”

The effects of sleep deprivation show in our everyday lives, bodies, and especially in our classes. I am guilty of being sleep deprived and see the effects in my extracurricular activities, which is usually the root of my sleep deprivation in the first place.

After a late night volleyball game, it is a struggle to pay attention in class and even harder to push myself to my full potential in practice at the end of the day. Many students who are involved in extracurriculars can relate to this ongoing process.

Late night extracurriculars can also make for a drowsy drive home and a drowsy drive to school the following morning. According to Andrew Williamson, a psychologist at the University of New South Wales, drowsy drivers are more dangerous than drunk drivers. His study found that reaction and decision making times were up to 50 percent slower in people deprived of sleep compared with the same people given increasing doses of alcohol.

“When I am extremely tired and pull an all-nighter, it’s really dangerous to drive, and I just have Celine drive,” Maria said.

In addition to extracurriculars being a cause of sleep deprivation, 19 percent of DCHS students reported technology as a cause. We live in a world where we check our phone every 30 seconds and don’t take the time to relax without a screen in front of our face.

When used before bedtime, the artificial light our devices give off can mess with our sleep patterns and internal clocks. Our body thinks it is daytime, so sleep signals in the brain are not received.

“Honestly, without my phone, homework takes me about two hours. But I’m always on my phone so it takes me a lot longer to finish my homework. You’d think I’d learn my lesson by now, huh?” Junior Nicole B. said. “I don’t go on my phone at school or work or anything, so as soon as I get home, I jump right onto my phone. Once I’m on it, it’s hard for me to put down, especially during homework.”

Your daily habits and activities can affect how well you sleep at night. Following a bedtime routine plays a vital role in getting a good night’s sleep. Giving yourself another hour or two of sleep per night will also help make you feel better.

“I think it’s important for us all to try to prioritize and find ways to get the proper amount of sleep because ultimately it’s going to affect our health,” special education teacher Tiffany Heins said.