Many Dobie students wake up on Monday mornings wishing they could just go back to bed. Then at school, they can barely keep their eyes open. Why?
According to the John Hopkins Medicine website, most teens need at least 9 ½ hours of sleep at night. However, because of many factors, middle schoolers do not tend to get near as much sleep as they should.
The Nationwide Children’s Hospital states that many teens get less than 7 hours of sleep at night because of a 2-hour shift in their internal clock. As a result, most adolescents are very sleep deprived. This may cause them to be moody, unfocused, and tired during the day. When asked about her sleeping habits,
Nia Mitchell, a 7th grader, said she has insomnia. “Sometimes I go to bed at 10 or 11. I wake up on school days at 6:00. Every hour I wake up for no reason and at times I can’t go back to sleep. I’m always tired.”
She’s not alone. Most Dobie students struggle with poor quality sleep, insomnia, and early mornings. In a survey including 141 students at Dobie, 31.27% (about ⅓ of the population) get 5 or less hours of sleep at night. An additional 27% gets 6 hours. Seeing as teens typically need 9 hours, the amount of sleep students receive is definitely not enough.
Poor sleep does not just enforce the struggle of waking up easily, however. It also takes its toll on brain function during the day. 90.8% of students report typically feeling tired during the day, and 47.6% of them say they also have fallen asleep in classes because of this. Said Nianna Shaffer, an 8th grader, “Something I notice about other students’ sleep habits is that they’re usually asleep in their classes or have nodded off at least once during the day.” Sadly, due to the lack of sleep in the Dobie population, this is true.
Fortunately, there are ways to get better sleep at night. The National Health Service, a British health and wellness website suggests limiting screen time in the evening, avoiding caffeine, having a healthy diet, and exercising before bed. Teens that do even one of these things tend to sleep better.
Madyson Rivera, an 8th grader, says she is seldom on her phone after hours because that’s when she charges it. “Also, I don’t feel like being on my phone is the right way to connect with people, so I’m not on my phone a lot.” This sort of motivation (or, indeed, disinterest) often helps people avoid sleep-depriving factors, especially phones.
Phones, like most technological devices, emit blue light, which, according to Sleep.org, “restrain the production of melatonin, the hormone that controls your sleep/wake cycle or circadian rhythm. Reducing melatonin makes it harder to fall and stay asleep.” This has a huge impact on the screen-obsessed population at Dobie.
Hopefully, the future of teenaged sleep isn’t doomed. Many students’ parents have recognized the dangers of iPhones’ blue light and have rules set in place to avoid it. Others have early bedtimes to make it easier to fall asleep and wake up in the mornings. Besides, even if teens don’t get enough sleep right now, the need to sleep declines with age, so time will help, even if our actions don’t.