Beauty Rest

Teacher, student give opinion, advice about sleep schedules

Regan Byrnes, Staff Writer

Dark circles and silent yawns are seen every day, whether in the hallways or classrooms. Many confide in their friends of how little sleep they got the other night, but what is more perplexing is that some boast of their lack of sleep, like it’s some kind of achievement. Why is that? 

It is universally known that sleep is vital and needed to survive, but people seem so willing to give it up. The National Sleep Foundation and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine agree everyone needs at least 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night. 

Math teacher Laura Volz gives her insight on why people, especially teenagers, are so ready to give up something that helps them function every day. 

“I think staying up late is always the result of an active decision based on either necessary or unnecessary things,” Volz said. “I understand kids are busy, and sometimes that will naturally interrupt their sleep [schedule]. I also am very well aware of the fact that I have kids that watch TikTok videos for five hours and play video games [all night].”

According to the Sleep Foundation, people who don’t get enough rest usually suffer from excessive drowsiness and have trouble focusing. Because of this, it can harm academic or work performance. Though Volz doesn’t know exactly how to help bad sleeping situations get under control, she does have some ideas.

“Not to sound like an old person, but putting limitations on cell phone usage [and] being off their phone after 10 o’clock [is a good idea],” Volz said. “I see in myself the addictive nature of being on social media and how it’s hard for me to put my phone down.”

Professional heath sources like the CDC and Sleep Foundation agree with Volz because due to the obsessive nature that electronic devices produce, this causes 7 out of 10 people to not get enough sleep. Due to this, Volz witnesses, on occasion, students falling asleep in her class. She believes her reaction entirely depends on how well she knows the student and her relationship with them.

“It’s very multifaceted,” Volz said. “Some kids I know have issues at home and maybe are struggling or going through issues of depression. If I know that’s going on and they’re having a hard time I can let things go. I also know sometimes kids like to actively choose to check out [of class]. If I feel confident that I know that there isn’t another issue going on, I’m going to address that kid pretty directly.” 

Though junior Cindy Ntembe agrees students usually shouldn’t actively choose to fall asleep in class, she does want to spread awareness about how hard it can be as a teenager to intuitively relax. 

“I have anxiety, so it can be really hard to fall asleep,” Ntembe said. “I’ll be sitting there and I feel too anxious to fall asleep.”

Ntembe believes electronics before bed can negatively affect a person’s sleep schedule but encourages practicing therapeutic techniques before bed and throughout the day. 

“Practicing mindfulness — if I really tried to commit to that, maybe that would ease my anxiety a bit more,” Ntembe said. “[For example] meditating or trying to clear your mind before bed or takeaway stimulants like electronics, Red Bull or coffee.” 

Though meditation techniques can only help a person so much, in most cases, especially for Ntembe, outside sources affect sleep patterns and cause an unorganized resting schedule. 

“Both of my parents work in hospitals, they usually pick night shifts,” Ntembe said. “I have to put my siblings to sleep [and] I’m up taking care of them. Maybe if my parents’ schedules could change in a way where they could also help me with my siblings at night, that would help me more.”

There are many ways people can improve sleep schedules, whether it’s “limiting light exposure and technology use in the evenings,” according to the CDC, or practicing mindfulness before bed. Sleep is essential for people to be stable physically and mentally, even though it’s one of the easiest parts to remove from life. 

“Biologically speaking, you need sleep in order for your body to repair itself — you need sleep for your muscles to repair,” Volz said. “We naturally expend so much energy during our awake hours, and sleep is what is restorative to us [and] makes us more clear-headed.”