Examining Black River’s Sleep Culture

Rachel Serie, Writer

The Student Experience

Somehow there is always that one class, usually when watching a documentary that creates the perfect environment to fall asleep. There’s a dark room, monotone voice, almost as if it were white noise, and your arms perfectly comfort your head, lulling you into sleep.

Even though in the moment it may seem like a perfect sleep environment, it may actually be a cause of not getting enough sleep. Black River middle and high school students, according to the CDC, students should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep.

Unfortunately, not getting enough sleep is a common thing for most high schooler, and students at Black River are not an exception. This lack of sleep has been seen and experienced by many students. Rebekah Harrison, a junior, says that she tends to get 7 hours of sleep per night, while Karalyne Chester, a freshman, claims to get 7-9 hours of sleep, depending on the night.

Teachers also notice how sleep affects their students. English teacher Mrs. Foreman says that she receives blank stares and less participation when her students do not get enough sleep. 

Effects of Too Little Sleep

Little sleep over periods of time can become chronic, leading to a whole list of problems, which include shortened memory, difficulties concentrating, reduced academic abilities, and an increased risk for developing depression. All of these are reasons teachers, parents, and doctors advise students to get enough sleep. 

To counteract the loss of sleep, oversleeping is quite common on the weekends.  Doing so can help at the moment, but it can lead to a shift in the internal clock so much so that on Sunday nights it is difficult to fall asleep.

Sleep Culture

Black River is known for having more challenging classes than some other schools in the area, which can cause pressure and stress on students to stay up late into the night to complete homework. In turn, this causes a “little sleep” culture within the school, as students throughout the week almost brag about the insufficient amount of sleep. From a teacher’s point of view, Mrs. Foreman finds it upsetting that her students brag about only getting a few hours of sleep because she believes it is unhealthy and should not be validated.

Boasting about getting a limited amount of sleep does not stop outside of the classroom, as social media sites like Instagram and Tiktok are known to have videos or photos which express how students run on 5-6 hours of sleep per night or less.

At the same time, students do procrastinate: As reported in American Psychological Association , 80 to 95% of students procrastinate on school assignments, leading to little sleep on some occasions.

Who’s To Blame?

However, high school students are not always to blame when it comes to getting an  inadequate amount of sleep. Teenagers are still in a developmental growth stage, and a big part of that is going through puberty which shifts the internal clock by 2 hours. The hours at which school is attended do not change, but the amount of homework does, increasing each year.

All of this can especially be seen in Black River, which is a K-12 school, where all the students begin and end school at the same time.

Another cause for the lack of sleep in students is out of school commitments, such as sports, Weeple (a civic and government debate style team), or jobs. Sia Rajgarhia, a junior with a challenging academic schedule, says “My average sleep schedule is going to bed at midnight and then getting up around four to work on more homework.”  Therefore, students as much as they want to sleep, are sometimes not able to, or it is quite difficult.

Advice

In order to help teens fall asleep, the NHS has a page with tips. They suggest that students follow a sleep routine, going to the around the same time each night, and to have a good sleeping environment. They define that as a dark, and comfortable room, and if need be to buy curtains to block out the sun.

Screen time should also be cut down, and phones should be left outside of the bedroom to discourage usage. The NHS advises that screen usage should be off 30 minutes before going to bed.

Apart from the bedroom, students might need to change their eating habits, as too much or too little food can cause disruptions throughout the night. Students must also avoid drinking caffeinated drinks 4 hours before going to sleep, as once again is does not allow for them to sleep.

Try this sleep advice in order to improve your wakefulness and energy!