In this 2016 L.A. Times file photo, a student yawns during class at Belmont High School. (Photo courtesy of Los Angeles Times)
La Cañada High School

Opinion: Sleep deprivation is affecting students

We all know what it feels like to be at school for seven hours. From time to time, we have moments when we yawn during our teacher’s lecture and fall asleep in class without even realizing. As teenagers, we are at the most important stage of growth and development, and sleep plays a huge role in our bodies. However, due to technology, homework, and activities, the majority of us have irregular sleeping patterns and are not receiving the correct amount of hours of rest.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best, but a study showed that as little as 15% of teenagers sleep at least eight hours on school nights. This leaves the other 85% with chronic sleep deprivation, with many sleeping an average of six hours or less.

We are in the era of screens, and staying up late to catch up with the latest news and gossip is expected. Each day, we ridiculously scroll through the various social media applications and lose track of time, wasting hours that can be used for sleeping.

Not only are Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube causing distractions that keep us up, but it is also the artificial light from our electronic devices. The screen emits a blue light that prevents us from feeling tired, especially late at night. Even though turning off all our devices at least an hour before bed is tough, this will help our brains realize the difference between day and night.

Homework can be a great source for learning but can be harmful when the workload becomes overwhelming. Sitting on a desk and taking time to finish assignments for more than two hours can give us physical symptoms of stress such as headaches and exhaustion.

In 2018, La Cañada High School took into consideration the quantity of homework provided and set a limit of homework time for each class. For example, students enrolled in advanced or honor level courses would expect up to 45 minutes of homework per course per night. By spending a limited amount of time on homework, I received less stress than usual and was able to sleep earlier.

Weekends are known for a break off from school, and many of us take advantage of the time to sleep later than we do on school nights. However, maintaining a consistent sleep schedule helps keep the circadian rhythm, your sleep and wake cycle, in check. Sleeping in hours later than normal makes it more difficult to transition back and can lead to excessive tiredness.

Lack of sleep can have significant impacts on our lives, and our bodies need a sufficient amount of rest to function properly. We can use time wisely by saving TV hours for weekends and planning what we need to complete ahead of time. Little by little, we can fix our habits to replace our yawning mouths with laughing ones.