Give Us Sleep or Give Us Death

by Molly Reagan
Class of 2015

On Thursday, April 30, I woke up at 6:30, went to school at 7:00, and got home at 2:15. I had a French Honor Society Ceremony at 5:15 that night, which I got home from at 7:45. I had to eat dinner and take a shower when I got home, and by the time I had finished it was 8:30. In those hours between getting home from school and leaving for the ceremony, and after 8:30, I was expected to write one essay, edit another, study for one of the most important calculus tests of the year, and complete seven pages of environmental science work. And this was all only two days before my first AP Exam. I only got five hours of sleep that night.

Such an occurrence has not been uncommon in my four years of high school. In fact, it has been the norm. I understand the need for homework, and I am willing to stay up late studying or writing. I am not, however, understanding of why schools can give students multiple hours of homework, not including the time needed for extracurricular activities, and then expect them to get up at 6:00 or 6:30 to get to school by 7:30 every morning. With the amount of time teachers, coaches, and clubs require, students are more often than not unable to get the needed eight hours of sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens aged 14-17 need eight to ten hours of sleep a night. Personally, I would estimate that I only slept for eight or more hours five times this school year, excluding weekends and vacations.This is not acceptable. Without the recommended amount of sleep, people experience difficulty concentrating and mood problems. If the education system, which is supposed to help students learn and perform well, does not allow them enough sleep, they are setting them up for failure. Most high schools are designed to deprive students of the sleep they need. They should not be forced to go to bed at midnight, 1:00 A.M., or even 2:00 A.M. only to get up three to six hours later. And if a student should choose to not do homework, or not join a team, so that they are able to get the sleep they need, they will do poorly in school, where homework often counts for a grade, or be less likely to get into a college, as they focus on not only academics, but extracurriculars. Students are essentially stuck between a rock and a hard place. They can either get the sleep they need, and be punished, or get by on less sleep than necessary, and feel the physical drawbacks.

Homework is necessary, and I personally encourage extracurricular activities like sports. The early hours of school, however, are not necessary. If schools like Braintree High were to push back their starting time, even by just one hour, students would have that precious hour more to sleep, to recover from their late night, to be fully aware for the next day. Schools cannot expect students to perform well if they are not given the time necessary to sleep well.