Everyone knows sleep is important, but people don’t recognize how many hours are needed. Science shows that developing adolescents need nine to nine-and-a-half hours of sleep to unlock their brain’s full potential.
The Independent School Health Check (ISHC) survey showed that 50% of Blair freshmen report getting 7-8 hours of sleep, while only 32% of seniors report the same number. A whopping 45% of seniors report getting less than 6 hours of sleep per night, and 8.7% of all Blair students report getting less than 5 hours.
Sleep deprivation or inadequate sleep is not healthy. “I fully understand how busy our students are with everything they pack into a day,” Mr. Pagotto noted, “but there is nothing I’ve ever read or seen that would suggest that you’re going to function at full capacity on less than 7 hours of sleep.” Busy students, like the ones at Blair Academy, should try their hardest to get the maximum amount of sleep possible, for their own benefit. If you get enough sleep, you’re going to be better at practice, more effective in your classes during the day, and better focused when you’re writing a paper or doing homework.
Sleep impacts emotions and how a person reacts to stressful situations. If someone were faced with the same scenario on separate days, for instance, and had varying amounts of sleep, they would react differently. For more information on stress, see Under Pressure by Meredith O’Neil ’18
“Dev and I have very different sleep schedules,” Ceci Fralick ’19 remarked about herself and her friend Matt Dev ’19, “but somehow we both function. How can that be? We are both the same age, and share a few classes, so how does Dev only sleep 4 to 6 hours and still function, whereas I feel awful if I don’t get at least 7 hours?” Below is example of what an average night looks like for these two students.
Ceci Fralick ’19
I usually start my work directly after coming back to my room following dinner, usually around 6:45. I use “work” loosely, because I tend to do leisure activities in between each large assignment, such as watch a YouTube video or start a drawing. Granted, some of these activities tend to make me lose track of time. Still, since I start so early, I more often than not have enough time to finish up all my work by around 10:30. Even when I fall down a YouTube hole, full of face-painting tutorials and gameplay walkthroughs, I usually get into bed around 10:45, and fall asleep around 11:15. Those are ideal nights. On an average night I usually sleep around 7 hours.
Matt Dev ’19
I usually return from practice determined to get a head start on my work before study hall. Then I tell myself that I will start it immediately after I take a nap, so that I can finish my homework by the end of study hall and go to bed at a reasonable hour. However, by this point in the year, we all know pretty damn well that’s not how things work with me.
What will most likely happen is that I will wake up from my nap hungry, and tell myself that I will go eat dinner quickly and return well before study hall ready to work. Once again, we can safely assume that I will not be doing any of that. In fact, in this situation, the literal opposite is what’s most likely to transpire.
What would happen is that I would enter the dining hall with every intention of executing my incredibly studious plan, but instead I would see the table where my friends normally sit and immediately forget whatever it was I was supposed to be doing. I walk over and sit down and hang out with them until study hall. Once I realize my mistake, I make a plan to start my work immediately at the start of study hall and work diligently until 10.
I actually usually start my work around 8:30 and work till about 10:15, taking short, intermittent breaks every 20 minutes or so, occasionally leaving my room for a bathroom break and accidentally ending up in someone else’s room on a different floor. At 10:15-ish, I will go be social around the dorm until I get told to go to my room before lights out. On a normal night, I will return to my room at 11 and work with breaks until I finish, which would be around 1ish. If I have a test or an essay due the next day, though, I will work until about 2.
There is no denying that well-being and sleep are linked. Students should prioritize their sleep because it’s essential to development, their functionality, and their social life.