By: Kate Hedger | Writer
October 11, 2019
Every day, teenagers are expected to wake up, be on time for school, complete their homework, take part in extracurricular activities, and have a social life. This doesn’t seem too unattainable, until you consider how many hours of the day each of these activities require.
“I feel like my sleep schedule is at least four hours off just because of sports, work, and homework,” San Clemente High School junior Oliviana Kane said.
The lack of sleep teenagers are getting might seem like a minor issue, but in reality it has become a public health epidemic. “Only about one in ten [teenagers] get the eight to ten hours of sleep recommended by sleep scientists and pediatricians,” sleep scientist Wendy Trolex said. For a student as SCHS to get 10 hours of sleep, they must go to bed between 8:00 and 9:00, which seems impossible to many.
Additionally, because of the impracticality of expecting eight to ten hours of sleep, students have to gain energy in different ways, one being the consumption of caffeine. Many students have to rely on coffee or energy drinks in order to function throughout the day.
Though extracurriculars and social lives contribute to a loss of sleep, the major factor is actually a matter of public policy. Major medical organizations have decided it is best for the school day to start no earlier than 8:30 am in order to account for the delay in the biological clock of a teenager (which determines when we feel most awake). The early start policies of school are having a direct effect on how little sleep American teenagers are getting.
A teenager’s biological clock has around a two hour setback from the average adult. This means that if a teen is waking up at 6am for school, that is the equivalent of an adult waking up at 4am. Most adults couldn’t imagine stating the day at 4am, never mind having to be taught for eight hours to start off the day.
For teenagers to function happily and healthily, their average amount of sleep per night must increase. Whether this comes out of a personal resolution or public policy, this change must take place in order for teens to thrive.