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Sleep deprivation prevalent amongst youth

In classrooms all over the country students are resting their heads on desks, counters, sweatshirts and each other in dire need of a good night’s rest. For some students a lack of sleep and inadequate rest can lead to underperformance in the classroom and ultimately laziness.

“My school work does suffer,” Kyle Gentz, ’05, said. “Occasionally when I get home I’m so tired from a whole day at school that I just eat dinner, shower and go right to bed. I don’t even bother with the hours of homework I have lying in front of me.”

According to the National Sleep Foundation [NSF] regular exercise in mid-afternoon can encourage a good night’s rest.

“Research suggests that exercise at this time [afternoon] can help deepen your sleep,” Joan Rachel Goldberg wrote in her article, ‘Just Say No To Caffeine and Alcohol.’ “You will spend more time in deeper stages of sleep.”

Students have proven this to be true in their own experiences with exercise and sleep problems.

“In the evenings, after baseball practice, I always sleep better and wake up feeling more refreshed than if I don’t have practice,” Adam Spears, ’04, said. “Exercise almost always helps me sleep better.”

For those students who cannot find the time to get a good night’s sleep, often a desk in the classroom is a great place to rest your head and catch some Zs.

“To all those kids who sleep in class, I say, just keep on sleeping,” Gentz said. “Sometimes that’s the only time we have to get some sleep in during the week because of all the homework we get.”

However, there may be consequences for those who sleep in class, including rude awakenings.

“I think I have made it clear to all my students that sleeping is not an option in my class,” Jon Hall, history teacher, said. “Usually I like to throw things at them, like nerf balls, glue sticks and footballs. My sleeping students are subject to being awakened by the loud noises of books and rulers slamming on the tables.”

However, some teachers find alternatives to throwing things at their sleeping students.

“When kids sleep in my class I can totally sympathize; I’m tired in the mornings too,” Molly Sargent, dean of women, said. “I understand but I don’t tolerate it. I just have the person next to them nudge them awake. I don’t usually make a huge deal about it unless someone has made it a habit to sleep in my class.”

The rising popularity of coffee drinking among teens could be the very reason they are not getting a good night’s rest.

According to the NSF, caffeine has an alerting or wake-up effect. For some people even a small amount of coffee can cause problems falling asleep 10 to 12 hours later.

“I drink coffee every morning,” Melodie McColm, ’04, said. “I won’t wake up until I have it or I’ll get headaches.”

Students and teachers alike rely on coffee in the mornings.

“I drink coffee every morning,” Sargent said. “Some would say I’m addicted and yes, I do rely on it, but I only have one cup a day. I’m just so busy, I can’t afford to take the time in the mornings to sit around and eat a proper breakfast at the table.”

For more information parents and students can contact the high school office at 299-1695, ext. 5. Also visit www.sleepfoundation.org or www.sleepnet.com.

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