By STEPHANIE SUN
Sleep at University High School (UHS) is both highly valued and undervalued. Students complain about the lack of sleep they had the night before and how that affected their performance, but at the same time they wear it like a badge of honor, demonstrating that they can still perform better than their peers. Conversations in which UHS students talk about the amount of rest they had usually start with someone complaining about how he or she is, leading to a competition in which the winner is the one with the least sleep.
Many hate the feeling of being tired during the morning, but they still stay up during the late hours of the night. Richa Ghosh (Jr.) said, “I only get about 6 hours of sleep each night,” and in the morning, “I feel like I’m half awake, and sometimes I even fall asleep on the car ride to school. Every night it takes me a couple of hours to do homework, and studying makes me take even longer.”
It is not uncommon for UHS students to only get their beauty rest halfway through the night. In fact, it is a fairly regular occurrence for many teenagers.
Teens need about 9 hours of sleep each night, but one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 ½ hours on school nights, according to the National Sleep Foundation. Not getting the recommended hours of sleep each night can limit one’s ability to learn and concentrate, contribute to an increase in pimples and acne, lead to short tempers and aggressive behavior, and cause one to gain weight. The small number of people who get a good night’s sleep is so extreme that the Center for Disease Control and Prevention has even considered insufficient sleep to be a public-health epidemic.
However, for some people, sleep is not just a decision about whether or not to stay up and binge watch a TV show. Erin Kim (So.) said, “When I’m really tired, even to the point when I feel like I might throw up, I lay in bed for hours, staring off into the darkness, and I can’t fall asleep.” She struggles with insomnia, saying that it occasionally makes it difficult for her to focus in class, affecting her school performance.
More than a thousand American high schools have pushed back their start times and saw an improvement in grades and concentration after encouragement from the American Academy of Pediatrics. For most UHS students, this year’s new bell schedule has been a blessing. However, any UHS student who takes a zero period class feels the pain of being awake an hour earlier than the rest of the student population. Kurun Reddy (Jr.) said, “I chose zero period because I wanted to fit all my classes into my schedule, but I don’t think it was worth it because I hate waking up [at seven] in the morning and trying to be productive.”
There are many ways people can remedy their drowsiness in order to have enough time to cram in their homework. Joshua Ho (Jr.) said, “When I need to be less tired, I turn on all the lights, splash my face with water, and take a sip from a cooled drink. But when I’m feeling really tired, I just crash right after school and take a nap for a few hours until I wake up and have to do homework.”
So how does one improve his or her health and the amount of sleep one gets each night? A consistent sleep schedule will help with drowsiness, as getting the same amount of sleep and waking up at around the same time every day allows the body to become in sync with its natural patterns. Limiting the amount of phone or computer screen time during the night also helps minimize the damage artificial light can have on the body’s internal clock (TIME). The best and most straightforward way to improve one’s sleep is to prioritize it. After all, getting long, consistent amounts of sleep is the best and only way to not cheat the body of the beauty called sleep.