Sleep reigns supreme as teenager’s most favorited activity

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Photo by Maria Martin

Teenagers are typically sleep deprived, and use any available time they have to catch up on sleep. Naps provide a good way to fit in a few hours of rest.

Written by Nikki Hinshaw, Editor in Chief

As the third week of school rolls around, most of us have (unwillingly) become accustomed to the ridiculous sleeping schedule that school forces upon us. I’ve already experienced some late nights and early mornings that leave dark circles looming beneath my heavy eyes, accompanied by a wonderfully apathetic mood and a burning hatred for everything occurring before 10 am. I long for the days of summer, where there was no bedtime, nor was there an alarm clock. If I was to never hear the cadence of Apple’s signature “Opening” alarm, I would be content with life. I am already looking forward to the quality night of rest that I can assure you will not come again until late May.

For teenagers that are supposed to have 9 ½ hours of sleep every night, I can bet that very few are meeting those guidelines, for a variety of reasons. Obviously, school is the major culprit for our lack of sleep. With school sports snatching three precious hours of the day in addition to the homework load from a combined six classes, there is little time to rest. I’m no math genius, but somehow I feel that school, sports, homework, activities, commitments or work do not add up to leave 9 ½ hours to sleep. Unfortunately we cannot tack on an extra few hours to the day, but there are some actions to take in order to maximize the amount of sleep you get and therefore reap the benefits of acquiring the recommended amount of sleep.

One word: naps. Napping is probably the best thing that has happened to this world. My restless infant self would hate me for saying that, but thinking about when to fit a nap has become an all-consuming hobby of its own. Shorter Wednesday schedules leave optimal napping space. Fridays are also optimal napping times, as homework is not necessarily due the following day and therefore falls beneath naps on the priority list. Although a 5-hour long nap may seem enticing, it is better to keep them short so you are able to complete some obligations complete as well as fall asleep at a decent time in lieu of repeating the cycle of no sleep. I thoroughly believe the key to success is fitting in time for naps, or if you’re lucky, some time on the weekend to sleep in.

Another way to catch up on some much needed sleep is to plan ahead. While calculating how much homework you have for the night, take advantage of the days were there is less of a workload. Instead of staying up and using your rare hours of free time to catch up on Netflix, consider going to bed earlier. While binge-watching One Tree Hill can only satisfy you for a few hours, gaining a few extra hours of sleep can help improve health in addition to mood. A study from Harvard University explains that when you are fatigued, neurons in your brain do not fire as often, inhibiting performance in a variety of areas. Fuel your neurons, get some sleep, and wake up feeling ready to take on the responsibilities of the day, instead of regretting last night’s late TV marathon.

Overall, the benefits to sleep are numerous but are impossible to fully acquire with the schedule of many high school students. Sports, schoolwork, a part-time job and other activities can interfere with the 9 ½ hours recommended for students our age. That is why it’s necessary to develop habits of fitting in sleep whenever possible, through naps and through rare but wonderful days where responsibilities are scarce. Trading sleep for another activity is not always a sacrifice, as it can leave you more prepared to complete other tasks to the best mental capacity you can.