What's Up with Sleep?

Waking up in the morning is a huge struggle. Just rolling out of bed and hitting my head won't wake me up, and the blasting of metal music on my Ipod on the way to school just seems to make me sleepier. In class, I notice that half of the students have drooping eyelids, and nod their heads back and forth, falling asleep, quickly waking up, and then falling right back asleep again. There are also the teenagers who stare at one thing in the room, daydreaming. I noticed a girl in one of my classes today staring angrily at the teacher's table legs, and the student would not respond to the teacher's questions because she was in her own little world. What is this monster that is taking over the student body of my high school? It is a spreading epidemic-- It is also known as sleep deprivation. According to Dr. Dinges of the American Psychological Association, the constant nodding of sleeping heads is labeled micro sleep. This is a small sleep dures 5 to 10 seconds, and restricts attention to activities such as reading and even driving. Not a lot of people get the required 9 hours of sleep each night, but most only need 8 hours of sleep. Yet those students who say they stay up until 3am doing homework are the few that can function with as little as 6 hours of sleep. Also, there are those that can't perform at their best unless they have had 10 hours of sleep! Remember that when you are taking the SATs.

Can you believe that stress is the number one cause of sleep-loss? I sure can. For us, it would be the stress of school, but if you have family problems that also is probably a factor. More than 1/3 of teenagers say that they drive drowsy, and 55% of teenagers that are in car accidents are tired teens. This dangerous dilemma of teenagers not having enough sleep is causing problems everywhere. It is causing students to do worse in school than those that get the required amount of sleep. It's a vicious cycle. The students get a lot of homework so they stay up late, then they're too tired in the morning to pay attention, and as a result they get more homework, which they finish at 12am. But sleep deprivation isn't just caused by piles of school stress- it is also caused by schedule overload. If you do some sports or drama or things like that, you aren't getting out of school until evening time. Then there's dinner, shower, and finally homework. But how can students gain more sleep at night when they cannot reduce their homework load or their activities after school? No one really gives answers except for having a regular bedtime and a regular schedule to get everything done on time. Yet even that is impossible, because when you want to go to bed at 11pm you end up getting under the blankets at 2am! I wish there was a pill we could take or something that would give us the extra 3-5 hours of sleep that we need. That's why there's coffee, but unfortunately I don't drink it.





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