At 12 a.m., an Urban student gets into bed, sleeping just seven hours before the alarm rings, waking her for another long day of school and homework. Seven hours is not enough but it’s the most she can get. She knows sleep is important for her health but she is unable to change anything in her routine, in order to get more sleep.
According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, teenagers are supposed to be getting 9.5 hours of sleep. The Health Initiative for Peer Education (HIPE) survey reported that 89 percent of Urban Students get less than nine hours of sleep on a school night, with 23 percent of surveyed students sleeping six hours or less per night.
On weekend nights, Urban students get more sleep, as 64 percent of students sleep for nine hours or more. Urban students are aiming to catch up from their lack their sleep over the weekend. Martin Austin (‘16), who tries to make up for his sleep over the weekend, said, “I just sleep in over the weekend. I don’t sleep that much over the week.”
However, according to a study by the Harvard Medical School, titled “Uncovering Residual Effects of Chronic Sleep Loss on Human Performance,” permanently catching up on sleep loss is impossible. Daniel Cohen, the lead author of the paper said that “Many people have a false sense of reassurance that they can quickly recover from a chronic sleep debt with just one or two days of good sleep.”
According to a study by the American Academy of Pediatrics, factors of sleep loss include the high prevalence of electronic media use among teens, school start times, and caffeine use, among others.
Ehryn Ortega-Thurman (‘16) said, “Homework keeps me up. I’m usually home, depending on what time practice gets out, 7:00 or 7:30 at the latest. So I’m starting pretty late.”
“I don’t usually get that much sleep because I have too much to do and I’m pretty bad at time management,” said Sophie Drukman-Feldstein (‘16). “I’m really bad at starting. Once I start my work it will be okay but I put off starting for a really long time.”
There are, however, some Urban students who sleep the recommended amount. Michela Wiley (‘15) generally gets enough sleep; she said that in order to this, “I just go to bed. If I stay up it’s because I’m messing around.”
“I prioritize my sleep over work,” Wiley said, “because I prioritize my health and I have for the past four years at Urban and it’s been manageable.”
For those who cannot get enough sleep, the effects can be widespread. Sleep is essential for the proper functioning of the body and can have long-lasting effects on the health and well-being of students. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital states that a lack of sleep can lead to changes in mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic performance, and drowsy driving.
“The lingering effect of chronic sleep loss causes performance to deteriorate dramatically,” said Cohen.
“I guess it’s a bit of a vicious cycle where the more tired I am the slower I work,” Drukman-Feldstein said.