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The School That Never Sleeps?

While sleep is deemed vital to a developing adolescent, work seems to consume most Packer student’s lives, often forcing many to sacrifice sleep in order to prioritize school work. Although the average 14 to 17 year old needs between eight to ten hours of sleep, the majority of the student body receives much less. Some are even averaging less than ten hours of sleep in a span of a week.

While controversial, many students have offered the idea of starting and ending school later. According to the National Sleep Foundation, students develop poor sleep habits due to their hectic schedules revolving around school, after school activities, family obligations, and the demand of having to wake up early for school.

“Start at 9:30 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.,” said Nathaniel Ellis (‘17). “We could create a schedule where you could come in early if you’re an athlete and leave school early for practice or games, and come to school later if you aren’t an athlete and leave school later.”

As a result of sleep patterns changing during the teenage years due to Circadian rhythm factors, sleep researcher and psychologist Dr. Sarah Blunden stated that there is a lag in the time when melatonin is released from our brains to our bodies. This results in teens not being tired until later in the evening, which is the main cause of sleep deprivation among teenagers. Because teens cannot fall asleep until late at night, it is difficult for a lot of us to wake up in the morning.

Packer students face the issue of lack of sleep and find comfort in sharing this issue among friends. Sleep deprivation has become “the new normal” for many students, instead of trying to learn to cap their nights and get more sleep.

“I do think a shift in culture might change things,”  said Chair of the Health Department, Karen Brandt. “ So if there wasn’t this bragging about ‘I only got x number of hours’ and instead ‘You’re not gonna believe how much [sleep] I got’ that would be a really nice shift.”

A concern among many Packer students involving the idea of sacrificing sleep to complete homework stems from within the Packer handbook. It states that there’s a certain amount of time a student is allowed to work on a certain assignment, forty minutes for standard classes and fifty minutes for AT classes, however, many students find it difficult to abide by this rule.

“I get a good amount of homework. It’s not too much. Probably an hour to do without getting distracted,” said Dare Rose (‘20). “But no [it’s not realistic to stop doing homework]. I think you just want to continue it and get it all over with and then you just have to just chill and rest after it.”

However, some upperclassmen have a different approach to the issue.

“If you don’t finish your homework, it’s difficult because teachers expect you to just get it done. If I couldn’t finish an assignment to catch up on sleep, that would be an unacceptable excuse,” said Stella Hackett (‘17). “As a senior, it’s not acceptable to just give up, mostly because  it ends up piling on top of each other and ultimately that won’t help you.”

In order to function accurately, the body needs sleep. When the prefrontal cortex is affected it can cause behavior and mood swings and a loss of motivation. An extended loss of sleep hinders the prefrontal cortex’s ability to control the learning process.

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