Teens Need Sleep

October 28, 2008
By Mona Zohny, Brooklyn, NY

“There is a time for many words and there is a time for sleep,” Odysseus told King Alcinus in The Odyssey. “Is there?” many current high school students might ask, since this does not seem to be the case with teens today.
Many teens are rolling out of bed each morning with less than the recommended 9.2 hours of shuteye. They are forced to cut back on their sleep in order to arrive to their first class on time. Soon enough, these teens are nodding off at their desks. At this point, how much of the lesson they recall? How many of their teachers’ words will register in their groggy minds? If school started later, teens would not have to wake up as early each morning and they would be more focused in school.
Getting an adequate amount of sleep is crucial for teens. At this stage in their lives, teenagers are still growing and developing; most of this occurs during slumber. It has been noted by researchers of the National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit organization that studies sleep in order to help Americans understand it better, that the biological sleep patterns of teens tend to shift so that they sleep and wake up later. This means that teens are not “wired” to fall asleep at 9 or 10 p.m. and wake up at 6 or 7 in the morning. Rather, they are “wired” to fall asleep at 11 p.m. or 12 a.m. and wake up at 8 or 9 a.m. Thus a later starting time in schools would be more beneficial to teenagers.
Sleep deprivation has many negative effects on teens in terms of health, school and study habits. For instance, it may cause the inability to pay attention, mood swings, poor eating habits (which leads to weight gain), and depression. Teens that aren’t well rested may do poorly in school because only sufficient sleep gives them the vigilance and time they need to absorb new information (which occurs as they sleep). Additionally, the lack of sleep makes teens very drowsy throughout the day so that when they get back from school in the afternoon, they may have a hard time beginning their homework right away. As a result, teens may put off completing their homework until the evening when they do not feel as tired, because of the way that their biological clock is naturally programmed, and they end up staying up late to work; this exacerbates their sleep deprivation. These habits may be carried to adulthood and affect them as adults, when they have more responsibilities.
It is a common belief that waking up early makes one more productive, because that way, there are more hours in one’s day. Even so, when a person does not get enough sleep, he or she will become too lethargic to complete tasks successfully. In other words, if the Board of Education would make schools begin later, students would get more sleep and, in turn, be able to function and pay better attention in school. The morning hours are of no use to students if they are not alert or active during this “extra” time.
In conclusion, it is crucial that school schedules accommodate teens’ needs for sleep. If the Board of Education is truly concerned with our welfare, then later start times should be considered and put into effect across America. This way, we teens can practice good work habits that we can take with us into adulthood. Policymakers must recognize that, as Odysseus told King Alcinus, we are telling them that not only is there a time for learning, no, “there is a time for sleep” as well.

Similar Articles


This article has 0 comments.


MacMillan Books

Aspiring Writer? Take Our Online Course!