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WHS: The School that (Sometimes) Sleeps

 “How much sleep did you get last night?” is a question commonly asked among peers at WHS, especially in the morning hours when everyone is barely up. For every one of your friends who gets a full eight hours of sleep, there’s probably one who stayed up till two cramming for a quiz. Virtually every kid has pulled at least one all-nighter, but how about on a regular basis? That was the purpose of a survey sent out to WHS students, receiving 150 different responses. And the results were unpleasant.

It’s well-known that teenagers should get, at the bare minimum, eight hours of sleep per night. However, only 12.7% of respondents said they got eight or more hours, and 23.3% slept less than six hours- that’s just under a quarter of the student body. Here’s the better news: 58% of students got six to seven hours of sleep, falling just short of the necessary eight.

So, it begs the question, why is WHS failing to get enough sleep? Most answers, perhaps unsurprisingly, boil down to a single factor: academic pressure. A whopping 69.3% of respondents cited schoolwork as a reason for staying up late. Students often feel the urge to cram homework and studying, especially before exams, and sacrificing sleep can appear to be the most effective way to get work done. It’s likely that this sleep deprivation is exacerbated by extracurricular activities, which sometimes end at late hours. However, the feelings of stress affect sleep long after the work is actually done. The second biggest factor in losing sleep, according to respondents, was “free time.” 54.7% of respondents had listed it as one of the reasons they stayed up late, and a few more had inputted responses like “TV” in the “Other” category. 

“You feel like you just need to make up the free time, even if you disrupt your sleep,” one student, Alaina Stonier, said. 

This phenomenon is known as revenge bedtime procrastination, the urge to sacrifice sleep in order to compensate for stress or busy schedules, choosing leisure activities- like TV- over sleeping. It’s known to mostly affect those with demanding jobs, parents of young children, and, of course, students. Many consider it the only chance they have for “me time,” and see it as a way of taking back control over their schedule, despite knowing the downsides of losing sleep.

Of course, there are solutions. Finding a schedule that works for oneself or study methods that take up less time. Carving out time for yourself during the day, pushing your bedtime up an hour, creating a nighttime routine, or exchanging pre-bedtime scrolling for more relaxing activities are all methods that could potentially help. WHS Health teacher Ms. Blank advises students to, “Create a routine which allows downtime before bed that does not involve screen time. Adequate sleep is essential to feeling awake and alert.” 

However, external pressures may not be able to change so easily. Perhaps all of us should take a look at the system we’re in and ask ourselves, Is this working? And if not, how can we do better?


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