Grades or mental health?

Leaving sleep on standby

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School or sleep? That is the dreadful question we are plagued with when most of our alarms go off at 6 a.m.

Well, what if you didn’t have to settle that argument every morning? Friends, let me introduce you to a rarely heard-of concept: starting school later in the day.

Now, I am not talking about starting school at 10 or 11 a.m., because that’s just pushing it. However, starting school at 9 or 9:20 isn’t such a crazy idea.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, as far as grades are concerned, going to bed late and waking up early may actually lead to lower grades and lack of motivation. And, according to PBS NewsHour, not getting enough sleep has about the same effect that smoking weed and binge drinking has on your grades. Please, take a minute and read that again. We are told from the very beginning to avoid alcohol and drugs at all costs. Now, we are being told that not sleeping enough can have the same effect on your body those toxic substances.

In order to get into good colleges, we high schoolers take it upon ourselves to overdo a ‘basic’ schedule. Over these four years at OPHS, we add a club or two, maybe even an extra class like Mock Trial or Drama or Marching Band. And let’s not forget that pile of Honors and AP classes we’ve signed ourselves up for. This diverse combination adds up to sleep-deprived students attempting to succeed with (hopefully) six hours of sleep on average.

We plan and plan, but most of the time our planning goes awry because of our workloads. We can attempt to go to bed at 9 p.m., but then, remembering that commitment number 102 needs our attention extends that 9 p.m. deadline to, let’s say, 12 a.m.

Whereas cliché teen movies may lead us to believe in party scenes and a social life, in reality, the weekends are a valuable time to catch up on homework or other extracurriculars. We honestly spend more time on our honors English homework than we do with our friends and family.

As colleges become increasingly competitive, it’s necessary for our future to include a million different agendas: we volunteer, join tons and tons of clubs and extracurriculars, and take rigorous courses that consume our time and energy. We tell ourselves that we are doing the normal amount and that in order to stand-out we should do more. But is achieving a dream worth the amount of stress an average high schooler puts on themselves?

There’s not much we can do to improve our sleep schedule; we can drop some extracurriculars and say ‘no’ to a couple of clubs. But, at the end of the day, we need the school’s help to enjoy our short experience at high school.

My suggestion is to push the start time of school, and I encourage you to speak up about any other ideas you may want heard. I mean it’s either that or have a school full of mummified students with disheveled hair and a bleak, dead look in their eyes.

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