Rhythm & Views by Cassie Pociask

An outlook on young adult interests and concerns

Rachel Kitchen, a senior at the Gifft Hill School, is working hard or hardly working.

A Look at Teenagers and Their Sleeping Habits

All too often I look over and see a classmate sleeping during class or overhear two students debating how much sleep they did not get the past night. With all the information and knowledge there is to learn, it is astonishing that anyone could fall asleep during a class. But, with the pressure to make good grades, have a social life, and keep a part time job, it is then understandable that most teen-agers do not get a sufficient amount of sleep.

“Trying to balance good grades, homework, filling out college applications, my friends, and my job is overwhelming,” said Gifft Hill School Senior Rachel Kitchen. “I am lucky if I get five hours of sleep a night.”

This is a normal response from teenagers about their everyday lives. But, according to an article entitled “Adolescent Sleep,” a teenager needs “nine hours and 15 minutes of sleep.”

I tried not to laugh when I heard this number. The last time I slept eight hours must have been when I was nine and still had a bedtime. I wake up around 6 a.m., and get back home around 5 p.m. I know I sleep an average of six hours. So, if I wanted to sleep for “nine hours and 15 minutes,” I would have to be in bed and asleep by 8 p.m. That is only three hours to do homework (which trust me is not enough), eat dinner, and get to bed. This would be physically impossible. 

According to the same article, teens that are not getting enough sleep can suffer from loss of memory and creativity. Loss of self-confidence, bad temper, mood swings, depression, and even a weakened immune system can all be attributed to lack of sleep in a teenager. So hormones are not the only things affecting teenagers.

I know that now you are thinking there is nothing you can do about not getting enough sleep, but actually there is.
Extra curricular activities are a great way to look outstanding on resumes, but it looks even better if you are focused on one or two groups instead of scattered among ten or fifteen. Maybe you could drop out of a club, or stop playing in a sport if you are already playing three others. This eliminates stress for time, which will make sleeping easier.

Also not watching television, playing video games or doing homework right before sleeping will be helpful for achieving more sleep. These activities may stimulate the brain to become more active late at night.

Maybe now you will consider going to sleep a little earlier, trying to do your homework during study hall, and focus in on only a couple of extra curricular activities.

Sleep is the most important thing a body needs; it is like recharging your cell phone when it only has one bar in the battery left. Insufficient sleep could lead to serious problems and it is important that teens today learn how to take care of their bodies, before entering a world where no one will tell you what to do or how to do it.  

For more information visit www.stanford.edu/~dement/adolescent.html.