Students fight through the struggles of sleep deprivation

Kaitlyn Cheng, Features Editor

As the school year begins, the common experience of drowsiness and an over-reliance on coffee bonds students together as they struggle through long and stressful days. Whether it’s binge-watching the last season of their favorite show on Netflix or keeping up with the homework load each night, students frequently end up getting an insufficient amount of sleep. This lack of sleep has become a key characteristic that defines the typical high school student.

“I get five hours [of sleep] at most,” junior Nadine Alkaragholi said. “It’s definitely not enough for me.”

Though students may be able to get by on minimal hours of sleep, getting the recommended amount of sleep each night is essential to health and development. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, adolescents need nine to nine and a half hours of sleep each night. Without getting in those hours, adolescents end up becoming lethargic and cranky. This hurts their attention spans, memories and performance efficiency. Teenagers are more likely to engage in high-risk behaviors such as drinking and reckless driving when they are sleep deprived.

“Less sleep definitely has an effect on me. I start getting drowsy during class and feel like dozing off,” sophomore Sumanth Patil said. “[My] academics get affected by how much I sleep. Even with seven hours, I already start feeling bad.”

Despite Fairfax County attempting to solve this sleep deprivation issue by pushing back school start times, students are still having trouble getting enough sleep.

“[The new starting time] is honesty just the same,” Alkaragholi said. “I liked getting out [at the previous dismissal time] because you have more time to just hang out at home and then start your homework earlier, but [now] I feel like I’m getting the same amount of sleep that I did before and I’m still just as exhausted everyday.”

It seems to be universally acknowledged that obtaining an adequate amount of sleep is easier said than done. Whether it is balancing one’s AP classes, extracurriculars or work, students always seem to be occupied with never-ending tasks. A common obstacle students face when trying to get in those nine hours of sleep is the terrifying monster that finds pleasure in destroying all students:


“I try not to procrastinate, but when it inevitably happens, I do have to stay up late, [which] kills me the next day,” Patil said.

Since there is so much on students’ plates, many tend to push long-term projects and assignments to the last minute. Then, the night before the due date, a catastrophic panic mode gets switched on inside. As a result, students are forced to stay up through the night, which causes them to be extremely sleepy and unfocused the next day.

With the new FCPSon initiative implemented this year, students are hopefully able to increase their efficiency through the use of technology, so they are able to sleep more.

“I know that there are kids here that take many AP courses all at once, [and] that poses a challenge,” physical education teacher Carmen Wise said. “I’m hoping that we’re making it a little bit easier on students to be able to be more productive in their homework and get it done faster.”

Some students try to make up for a lack of sleep during the school week by sleeping in on Saturdays and Sundays. However, Nationwide Children’s Hospital advises students against oversleeping on the weekends, as the practice throws off students’ sleep schedules, thus making it difficult to wake up on school days.

In general, students should always manage and keep track of their time for each assignment, staying away from electronics when doing work.

“It’s really important to stay organized; that way [you’re] not thinking about [things] when the lights are out,” Wise said. “[Getting nine hours of sleep] can be challenging, but I think it’s necessary for students because [they] are so young and [they] truly need it.”