It?s 12 a.m. and the towering pile of math homework you?re working on is taking longer than it should. Occasionally, your eyes start to flicker, then close; drool begins escaping the corner of your mouth as your tilted head slowly drops before… THUMP, you?re back awake until you do it again. Just as soon as you finish the homework, you begin watching your favorite show as you simultaneously instant message your best friend. But the next morning, you wake up dead tired.
It?s generally accepted that most students need more sleep than they get. With Facebook, personal computers, TV, cell phones and a plethora of entertainment sources at their disposal, kids would rather be up until the early hours of the morning catching up with their friends and doing things that they don?t have time to do after school due to extracurriculars, homework, sports and other activities.
It?s common knowledge that children who are still growing and going through puberty need more sleep than adults. But recently, this information has been confirmed by scientific experimentation.
Recent sleep studies are showing that sleep is especially vital for teens? brains to retain and learn new information during the following day?s classes. While you may have finished all your assignments and studied for what you needed to, you may not be able to remember the things you studied and learn new things the next day.
According to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, amid deep sleep, signals are sent to the cerebral cortex ? the region of the brain responsible for learning and memory ? to organize and interpret information learned that day. For teens, they need 9 ? hours to do this. But for most teens? schedules, this simply is not possible ? especially with the number of afterschool activities they have.
?With sports and club activities, it really isn?t easy with afterschool activities because I am always too tired to do homework,? sophomore Ashley Coates said. ?So, I normally don?t get much sleep, maybe six hours.?
For students beginning the International Baccalaureate(IB) program, sleep is cut back even more. The new intense workload along with other activities end up turning students into figurative zombies.
?In the beginning of the IB program, it took a while to become adjusted to the workload,? junior Natalie Scavuzzo said, ?meaning that the hours I spent sleeping was severely limited.?
When IB exams came around, seniors found their amount of sleep dwindling the way it did when they first started the IB program.
?With IB exams in progress, sleeping during the week is shortened due to stress and reviewing material from the past two years,? senior Thomas Antony said.
While schoolwork seems to be said the source of sleep deprivation in teens, there are other factors that contribute to it. For instance, television shows and social networking sites can catch students? attention at night, causing homework to take longer than it should.
?I have been trying to catch up on the show Weeds, so I tend to not pay attention to the time,? sophomore Emma Aulestia said. ?Add in Facebook and Skype, and homework takes triple the amount of time it should really be taking.?
Some scientists believe students at this age are biologically made to sleep to later hours than adults and children. According to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, the change of the circadian rhythm?the body?s internal clock? during puberty causes this. More amounts of the sleep-promoting hormone melatonin are produced at night, which is not as crucial to the brain power and productivity of younger kids and adults. The biological alteration in the sleep cycle makes it harder for teens to go to sleep early. Since they must wake up at six a.m. or earlier to come to school, they do not get as much sleep as they need and feel overly tired in the morning.
Fortunately, Friday?s late opening benefits students? sleep schedules at least one day a week.
?Since I know I can sleep in on Fridays, I?m not as stressed on Thursday doing homework,? sophomore Mike Wang said.
Even though it is possible for teens to sleep early, it is not guaranteed they will feel alert at seven a.m.