By Lauren Heng ‘18
We all love and value our sleep. However, due to the early bell schedule, our sleep patterns are interrupted, affecting our productivity throughout the school day.
According to Science News for Students’ article, “Explainer: The Teenage Body Clock”, the body clock is a mechanism present in all life forms that controls when various functions such as metabolic signals, sleep cycles or photosynthesis should occur. When teenagers hit puberty, their biological clocks are pushed forward, making adolescents and teens unable to sleep early as they use to. Teens sleep late, which can make their body clocks out of synch with the natural outdoor cycle of light and darkness.
“I have to wake up at 5 A.M. everyday just to look like Kanye and leave my house at a reasonable time,” Agha Shah ’18 said, “I also need to make sure that I catch the train and bus on time so I won’t be late to my first period class.”
Waking up before the sunrise has driven students to believe they are not prepared to perform daily tasks in class and that they should instead still be sleeping. In CBS News’ article, “Teen’s Body Clocks Different” it was suggested that teens should get plenty of light in the morning. However, this is a problem for most of the students considering that they do not see any sunlight when they wake up.
The lack of sleep has hindered students’ ability to stay focused in class. Most students tend to lose their concentration, which can affect their grades.
“Sometimes, I oversleep and arrive to school late which makes me annoyed because I miss out on everything I needed to learn for those periods,” Sidney Yee ’18 said. “I end up teaching myself the information which adds more stress to my day since I find it harder to understand when there’s no teacher to go over the lesson.”
Briana Staten ’18 said, “Whenever I have lacrosse practice I lack the energy to work to my full potential because I’ve been up for so many hours.”
Since teens are biologically programmed to sleep later, many social and cultural forces have added more limits to their sleep. Students are also overwhelmed with the amount of homework that is due the following day and end up procrastinating. Some even have jobs after school, which reduces their time to focus on any schoolwork. This leads to more stress and worrying among these students.
“Usually when I come home, I take a nap,” Amy Leong ’18 says, “Essentially, I am taking two naps instead of one good night sleep, which ruins my sleeping schedule.”
In The Daily Mail Online’s article, “Making teens start school in the morning is ‘cruel’, brain doctor claims” Professor Foster, Oxford University’s head of circadian neuroscience, notes, “Teenagers’ body clocks can be delayed between two and four hours and they don’t start to function until 10am or as late as noon.” If students are able to function at such a later time, then why do they have to wake up early just to lose focus and concentration in a particular class?
“I think we should start later because I feel like there’s no point in forcing students to go to school earlier if they can’t work their best,” Melissa Zhong ’18 said. “It just seems like a waste of time to attend classes when you are so focused on wanting to sleep.”
According to Russell Foster’s article “The Science of Sleepy Teenagers” in Slate, the reason teens are grumpy, moody, insensitive, angry, and stressed is they’re tired. Sleep disruption contributes to the unbalanced levels of the stress hormone cortisol. Any impulsive behaviors, lack of empathy, sense of humor, and mood are relatively affected. To try and wake them up, they use stimulants to compensate for sleep loss, and caffeinated or sugary drinks are the common choices.
“A lot activities and group work usually happen in my first few classes,” Raymond Xu ‘18 said. “But I tend to feel less interactive because I am not in the mood to talk to anyone.”
It is important that students get sufficient amount of hours needed for sleep. Many schools are starting to fix their bell schedule by making it start later to let students catch up on some of the hours of sleep they missed. Our school should follow in this adjustment in order to maximize student productivity. Just imagine how much more you can get done if you had an extra hour of sleep.