Durango High School is filled with dedicated students who do amazing things. Many take full course loads, advanced classes, and participate in a myriad of extracurriculars. But while a busy lifestyle is appealing to most, sleep is often compromised, which can lead to multiple issues inside and outside of the classroom.
The importance of sleep is often an oversight for adolescents, whose active lives can lead to sleepless nights. “Sleep is extremely important at the high school level because students are often involved in activities after school, followed by family time and then homework,” said district nurse Adeline Bryant. “Without adequate sleep, stress levels can increase and studies often slip. I advocate for 8 to 9 hours of sleep a night for high-school students.”
While lack of sleep often causes stress and academic tension, it can also affect many other aspects of students’ lives.
“Sleep deprivation is somewhat like starving yourself,” said local licensed clinical social worker Darren McKinnis. “Our bodies need sleep. It is our body’s way of rebooting. When someone becomes sleep deprived you can experience a number of things. These include lack of coordination, lack of concentration, weight loss or weight gain. One way to think of sleep deprivation is to think of pouring concrete on your brain. Imagine attempting to do higher math functions while having the weight of concrete sitting on your brain. This is exactly what sleep deprivation is like to the body. In today’s society we have little down time and we often find ourselves staying up late attempting to finish school work or things that we did not get done during the day.”
Sophomore Lola Thomas is all-too familiar with having a full schedule. “Not only am I in advanced classes, but dance competitively at Bella Dance Studio for over twelve hours every week. After homework, practice, and dinner, I’m lucky if I can squeeze in six hours of sleep.”
Long nights can make a student’s day more difficult; tired teens can hit a productivity wall. “After nights when I don’t get a lot of sleep, the next day can be hard to focus. It takes me longer to do homework and makes cross country more painful,” says So. Anna Pylar.
Thomas and Pylar are two of many DHS students that struggles with fitting sleep into a busy schedule, but working on homework or cramming for exams late at night can actually decrease one’s potential to do well.
“Adolescents have this belief that they can go on and on forever with little to no consequences. This however, is not the case at all. If you pull an all nighter for your finals you are more likely to be less smart than if you would have just studied for a short amount of time. As I stated before, your body needs to shut down and recharge,” said McKinnis.
Stress is also a major contributor to student sleep loss. Although some students are unaware of these stresses, they often contribute to lack of rest.
“The life of a typical adolescent is relatively stressful. Although some don’t recognize their life as being stressful until finals or some big event in their life, most experience some sort of stress on a daily basis,” said McKinnis. “Stress is part of life, but what most people don’t realize it that it has a cumulative effect on the body. Too much stress will cause interruptions in sleep patterns.”
Next time you’re stressed about class, cramming for the final, or thinking about tomorrow’s practice, remember to consider that your brain needs rest. In a world that’s constantly moving at 100 miles per hour, perhaps it’s best to lay down, close your eyes, and sleep.
After all, tomorrow’s going to be a long day.