As per the guidance of the CDC, “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has recommended that children aged 6–12 years should regularly sleep 9–12 hours per 24 hours and teenagers aged 13–18 years should sleep 8–10 hours per 24 hours” (“Sleep in Middle and High School Students”). For a student in today’s day and age, attaining those 8-10 hours of sleep every night is near impossible, especially considering the heavy workload of schoolwork most students receive every night. On top of that, some students have extracurricular activities such as sports and after-school clubs, which further aggravates their already-poor sleep schedule. According to a CDC survey administered in 2015 to high school students across the United States, “Among high school students, 72.7% reported insufficient sleep, with about 20% reporting sleeping fewer than 6 hours a night” (“CDC: Most Middle and…”). The fact is, students in today’s generation are sleeping less than the required amount, bringing upon increased pressure and exhaustion; students tackling a higher workload are the most prone to sleep the least, coming into school exhausted, yet reluctantly ready for another day’s intensive workload.
Following these observations, administrators cannot expect students to be attentive and ready to learn when, according to another study carried out by organization GENYOUth in 2018, “Many students have a longer work day than the average American adult. Our findings revealed that high school students, on average, are tackling a 12 hour day, 5 days a week” (“Teens and Sleep Survey Summary”). The source goes on to state that students have a 60-hour workweek, which is far too much for the developing minds and bodies of teenagers. With other expectations of students added in, such as taking up advanced courses, sports, extracurriculars, and homework, there’s a clear reason why high school students are constantly stressed, overwhelmed, anxious, and depressed -- it’s because they’re overworked and rarely given a rest from the demanding workload they receive on a daily basis.
Students are expected to perform superbly under pressure for six hours every day, 180 days a year, and somehow also be able to complete housework, schoolwork, put up with extracurriculars, and deal with the frustrating process of college admissions. Most importantly, teenagers attending high school likely have an active social life. Even if a student were able to manage their time, there is not enough time in the day to get everything on their agenda accomplished. Sleep deprivation, especially in students, can have harmful effects. According to the United Kingdom National Health Service, the benefits of getting enough sleep include higher immunity from viruses, improved mental and physical health, and even increased resistance against diabetes and heart disease.
Although reasons for lack of sleep depend on the individual student, school administrators could help alleviate the issue by proposing innovative solutions to encourage students to sleep more. If schools were to push the start of the day from the standard 8 A.M. time to 9 A.M., and decreased students’ workload by 15 percent, students would be given an opportunity to manage their time effectively, and be able to get enough time to sleep properly. Everyone, especially adults, need to address this problem and make an effort to adapt the school system so that students can come to school ready to learn, and be able to contribute in an effective way. Young people more than anyone need a solution to this nation’s ongoing sleep crisis, and we must change if we want to help bring the best and brightest version of ourselves into our world.
“CDC: Most Middle and High School Students Don't Get Enough Sleep.” APTA, 29 Jan. 2018,