Why It’s Not as Simple as Going to Bed Earlier

Lily Hemmeter, Staff Writer

Sleep. Sweet, elusive sleep. Something teenagers desperately need but rarely get enough of. To us, dedicating eight full hours of the day to rest seems near-impossible. Sleep deprivation has become the norm, and contrary to popular belief, telling us to just “go to bed earlier” is not helpful. At all. 

In a recent survey conducted to gather data on sleep habits of Dulaney students, about half of respondents admitted to getting only five to six hours of sleep on the average school night, and another 20% get just three to four. These findings are shocking compared to the CDC recommendation which states that teenagers should get eight to 10 hours per night. Unsurprisingly, 64% of students in the survey said that they do not feel awake or alert during the school day, and 62% have fallen asleep in class before. It is clear that this is an extensive issue and one that will not be solved easily.

There are a number of factors that keep high schoolers from having healthy sleep routines. Homework, stress and insomnia were the most common responses regarding this. Many students also play sports and don’t get home from school until about 5 p.m. Trying to juggle school work, jobs, friends, hobbies, household chores and mental health is no easy task for teenagers, yet they are expected to just “figure it out.” To meet all of these demands in life, sleep is often the first to be sacrificed. When given the option between staying up past midnight to study and going to bed at a reasonable time, many students will prioritize their schoolwork. 

Despite our unbreakable connection to technology, teenagers are not robots, and we need breaks too. It is unreasonable to expect us to go to school for seven hours, participate in clubs and sports, complete hours of homework and go straight to bed at nine o’clock. While this may work for some people, the vast majority of us need some time to unwind between the school day and homework time. According to Cornell Health: “taking purposeful breaks (anywhere from 5–60 minutes) from studying to refresh your brain and body increases your energy, productivity, and ability to focus.”

With my frequent lack of sleep, I am certainly in no position to offer advice on this subject, but I will anyway. Spreading out your homework over both days will reduce the amount you need to do each night. On days where you don’t have as much homework, spend your extra time sleeping rather than scrolling on TikTok. Start prioritizing your sleep over studying for hours straight; being well-rested will probably help you do better on a test than cramming all night.

Hopefully, we will figure out how to break this cycle of sleep deprivation soon. In the meantime, please don’t tell us to go to bed earlier.