What Keeps Us Up at Night


Pamela Stravitz

Activities relating to social media and electronics, for example Netflix, can cause sleep deprivation in teens.

Karen Piepgrass, Staff Reporter

In the era of Instagram and Tumblr, not to mention Netflix and Twitter, it’s amazing students get any sleep at all.

According to our survey* the average Paul Laurence Dunbar student gets 7.1  hours of sleep on weekdays and 8.32 hours during the weekend.

The Sleep Foundation reports that the recommended amount of sleep that teenagers need to get in order to function their best is around 9.25 hours.

Clearly, we know that we aren’t getting enough sleep. But what are the reasons behind students getting so little?

Schoolwork is an obvious reason why the numbers show we don’t sleep as much during the week.

Senior Paulina Zarate said, “I go to sleep later and have to wake up earlier on week days than I do on weekends, because of the school work and pressure I have during the school week. Which leads me to me being tired during class and I don’t focus as much as I could.”

We’ve all seen the kid who suddenly faceplants onto their desk because they fall asleep propped up on their hands, and then their arm slides out from under their chin, like junior Meryum Siddiqi who admitted falling asleep during class.

Whether they would like to fall asleep earlier or not, sometimes fulfilling class requirements doesn’t leave enough hours in the day for the suggested amount of sleep, especially when tests or large assignments are due.

“I stay up late doing projects and homework, so I never get to sleep as soon as I’d like,” Junior Keaton Jenson said.

Senior Ami Patel says that homework is a main cause of her lack of sleep.“I don’t get enough sleep because of homework…well, procrastination on homework,” she admitted.

During the survey, we found that schoolwork was a major complaint in causes teenagers to not be able to get as much sleep, but it’s not the only factor.

Beyond school work, smart phones are a distraction, too.

Many Dunbar students reported that texting, tweeting, “Netflixing” and Instagraming are all guilty in diverting them from sleep.

While these “distractions” may be fun, they have some fairly negative effects.

“I’m a night person, so I stay up late. But I also text people and watch Netflix a lot,” said Patel.

With such stressful schedules, students say that social media and television are outlets to relax and to get their minds off of their busy lives.

Senior Hannah D’eramo, a self-proclaimed Netflix fanatic, said “I would have to blame the fact that I am currently trying to figure out the rest of my life, so sleep is put on hold… also Netflix… and life… and Netflix.”

High school is an especially stressful time in most people’s lives because it’s time to decide what to do in the future. Students’ sleep schedules are not even always something that they can control.

It’s a proven medical phenomenon that teenager’s internal clocks are off kilter. Many Dunbar students even resort to taking naps.

For example, senior Shelby Carvalho said, “I take naps after school which makes me less tired at night but I still don’t sleep well.”

Along with all of the physical distractions, emotional distractions can be just as disruptive to your sleep.

Senior Andrea Hall said, “Even with all of our assignments from school, work, sports and extra-curricular activities you would think that plopping into our bed around 10 pm would be easy but it’s harder then you think.”

She explained that “everything I did that day still runs fresh through my head, making it harder to think of something relaxing.”

Mental stress from overwhelming responsibilities causes a lot of students to become overwhelmed at some point, which also deters a normal sleeping schedule.

With everything expected from students in their high school years, the majority are suffering from a lack of sleep because of their other responsibilities and the distractions from the world.