Are high school students getting enough sleep? Is there any solution?

Are high school students getting enough sleep? Is there any solution?

Samantha Adourian and Rachel McIntyre, Staff Writers

Do you ever hear about students falling asleep in class? Do you get enough sleep? Do you feel ready for school the next day? Here at Waltham High School students and staff members can all agree on the fact that the students need more sleep. We talked to the junior and freshman student adjustment counselors (SACs) as well as 61 students to better understand what is going on with teens and sleep.

The pie chart shown above displays the data of the 61 students and the time they go to bed.

Some other information that we gathered from students is what time they wake up in the morning. The majority of students said that they wake up at 6 am. This means that the “9 pm-ers” get around 9 hours of sleep while the late crowd gets as little as 3 hours. The recommended amount of sleep for teenagers is 8-10 hours a night. Based on this information, if everyone got up at 6 am,

Only 43.4% of the 61 teens polled are getting enough sleep

— Samanthan Adourian & Rachel McIntyre

Both SACs (student adjustment councilors Ms. Gonzalez and Ms. Snider) responded with “eight hours” when asked how much sleep they think their students should get. Our second question was directed towards their personal sleep schedule, how much sleep they get every night? Again, their answers were the same:  six hours.

Unsurprisingly all 61 students that we interviewed within the walls of Waltham High said that they are tired at school. This brings some thoughts to mind, are classes assigning too much homework? Are students managing their time wisely? Are they struggling to balance responsibilities and commitments outside of school? 

Different opinions have formed around the idea of pushing the start time of school later in the morning. Neighboring towns of Waltham such as Newton Public Schools have already made the change. The idea of a later start time pleases some and disappoints others. If school started later, so would sports, which means homework gets pushed off and the problem — lack of sleep — remains unsolved. From conversations we had with administrators, it seems that Waltham has not looked into changing school start times.

WHS SAC Ms. Gonzalez confirmed she has not heard discussions of adopting a later start time. “I know kids would love that,”she said.

When we first delved into this research, we too thought that students would adore having the chance of going to school later giving them the time to sleep in; however, learning that it would also push back the ending time of the day, students’ opinions changed from loving the idea to disliking it. 

Students expressed that a later end time would cause things likes sports to be pushed back, and for working students, shifts would have to start later.  We came to the conclusion that even with pushing back the start time, students would be just as busy because after all of their after-school activities, they would still need to stay up later to get things like homework done for class. The sleep schedule of a student wouldn’t look much different with a pushed start time. 

Often when a student is falling behind in class or school in general Ms. Snider and Ms. Gonzalez notice that the topic of sleep almost always comes up. Part of being a student adjustment counselor is receiving information about how their students are doing.

When we sat down to interview Ms. Snider, it turns out she was just sent to wake up a student of hers in the hall which was perfect timing given the topic of our article. Ms. Snider said that she “wouldn’t be surprised” if a student fell asleep in her class, but in order to wake that student up, she said she would, “give them a little nudge or move their desk a little.” She was very considerate in her way of waking a sleeping student in class, because she did not want to embarrass them in front of the other students. 

As we were walking out of our interview with Ms. Gonzalez, she stopped a few students in her office and asked them about how they would want to be woken up from an in-school nap. They all came to a consensus that they would not appreciate being touched to be woken up and that they would much rather have their name called or their desk tapped. We think that this really just depends on the the type of student, some might find it polite to be given a nudge while others find it weird. Meanwhile others might find it startling having their desk tapped while some find it polite and respectful. 

Maybe there is no solution or maybe the solution is evident but not preferred by administrators: four day school weeks.