Editor’s note: Brendan Craine is a junior at Denver School of the Arts, where his focus is creative writing.
A study conducted by the Department of Health and Human Services determined that the average “adolescent” (young adult from ages 12-18) required at least 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep every single night for ideal health and brain development. This is a result that makes me kind of chuckle and sob at the same time, because I haven’t gotten more than seven hours of sleep for the past five nights, and I consider myself to be among the more rested of my peers.
In fact, a quick poll of the room (currently filled with a slew of writers, aged 13-17) revealed that of the entire 17 of them, only four had gotten at least 8.5 hours of sleep in the last week, and of those four, only one had gotten enough sleep on more than one night.
A lot of focus has been put on academic achievement through the availability of additional resources to students, smaller classes, higher standards, and so forth. However, the most basic of issues has yet to be resolved: sleep. No matter how many resources a student body has, it will not be able to use them effectively if the student body can barely keep its head off its desk.
Although some schools are making efforts to extend the amount of time a student will have available for sleep – my own school, for instance, is pushing the time at which it starts forward one hour – there is still far less priority given to sleep than there should be.
Most students complete around four hours of homework each night, which seems minimal when taken out of context. After all, if each students get out of school at three, then they should be done working at seven, right? Well, that is not taking into account transit from school to home, dinner, any work that the students might have (and high schoolers do hold jobs), as well as the fact that it is darn hard to focus after being at school for eight hours.
Assuming, however, that students don’t eat dinner, and go to bed immediately after finishing their work, then they will sleep from 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., which is 11 hours of sleep, and fully adequate. Still, who would want their kid to live like that? Seventy-seven hour work weeks, without dinner?
What about the fun part of being a kid, namely, goofing off and being able to appreciate life as an adult without the responsibilities of being one!
I’m all for additional resources for schools, and greater funding and extra extra-curricular activities, but let’s have those things when we can properly enjoy them and use them to their fullest potential: Once we’ve had a good night’s sleep.
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