Studying harder isn’t worth the cost of sleep deprivation

Eli Cohen, Feature Writer

There are many ways to try and improve your grades, but staying up all night doing your homework is not the solution.

Teens are recommended to get eight and a half to ten hours of sleep, but despite this studies have shown only 15 percent of teens get that on school nights. It is clear that most teens don’t get enough sleep, and this is causing myriad problems.

While dozing away more than a third of your life may sound ridiculous, it is certainly important. “The day is only 24 hours, and there is so much that you can do. Too much extra activity will impact sleep. So you have to have enough for everything. So extracurricular activity, and homework, all that has to be calculated and you have to have enough time for everything,” says Dr. Muhammad Najjar, a sleep physician at Northshore Sleep Medicine in Skokie. ”Unfortunately, sleep isn’t a priority, but it needs to be.” as he suggests that it’s crucial for students to make time for sleep.

Consistency in sleep is also crucial as students “have to set a time and they have to go to bed at that exact time. It is a habit one has to build, and they have to do it, and stick with it. They have to have structure in the day,” says Najjar, “There’s a time for school, a time for homework, a time for other activities, and there is a time for sleep.”  Najjar stresses the importance of making a schedule, and staying consistent, because the negative effects of sleep deprivation only get worse as time goes on.

While Najjar discussed ways to improve sleep, it is also important to realize why sleep deprivation is problematic, “I find myself drifting off in class and it’s hard to pay attention,” One freshman says, as she believes that her seven hours of sleep, a few hours less than recommended is a major cause to symptoms she experiences.

Junior Daniel Deamont falls asleep while studying

A common symptom among students is a shortened attention span, “It is very hard for me to pay attention because I’m too tired to focus,” freshman Arturo Munoz says, and because of that he also says “I wish I got better sleep because I want to concentrate in school.”

It is clear that students believe sleep causes problems so why don’t they take action? “It’s something that people have to put effort into,” says Najjar, “It’s not going to happen without effort.” Students may want to get better sleep, but at the end of the day, only 85 percent of teens are receiving the necessary amount of sleep. Like students acknowledged, it does cause shortened attention span, and damages their critical thinking abilities. These symptoms will surely affect academic success, and while sleep may not be the primary cause of these issues, it definitely can impact a students success severely.

There are many reasons why students can feel sleep deprivation, and a large reason is distractions, especially their electronic devices. One student says “My phone provides a source of distraction that keeps me up later than I need to be.” Which is very much in line with what Najjar says, that one should “Avoid using those devices, [the devices are] just not a good thing.”

While Apple has realized how phones at night can be viewed negatively, adding a “nightshift” option as a result that turns the screens blue light to orange light to apparently not mess with teens eyes as much, Najjar doesn’t buy it completely. He said it may be somewhat better for your eyes, but also says “This device, if it is going to take hours from sleep, it will be bad, regardless of whether it has the blue light or not.”

While some students say that coffee is a good aid for their lack of sleep, Najjar firmly disagrees, saying that “Caffeine makes everything worse.” He goes on to explain how it just makes each night worse whenever you have caffeine, and as a result, advises teens to stay away from it.

Sleep is a crucial part of functioning, and it is time for students to take action and improve their sleep habits. Whether it is by sticking to their schedule, or taking away devices, sleep can clearly impact a students performance, it’s time to take responsibility and make the right choice.



Adam Marquardt