by Melissa Paz-Flores (’22) | March 29, 2021
Okay, let’s face it. We’ve all had those rushed moments—having to stay up until past midnight to finish an assignment. And then we say we’ll sleep in on Saturday to make up for the lost hours. When that happens, we wake up on Saturday with a raging headache. With online school, many students have had more time to sleep, while others have more assignments and duties than usual. According to the Nationwide Children’s Health Clinic, in a pre-COVID world, teens were sleeping about seven hours each night. Studies from the 2006 Sleep in America Poll by the National Sleep Foundation reported that 45% of adolescents reported getting less than eight hours per night.
The issue of insufficient sleep may be getting worse. Data from four national surveys conducted from 2007 to 2013 discovered that nearly 69% of high school students got seven or fewer hours of sleep per night, with insomnia affecting up to 23.8% of teens. In a world suffering from the pandemic, researchers argue that students are recovering from sleep deprivation.
But unfortunately, I have been sleeping less since quarantine began. Outside factors are likely contributing to my sleep loss, such as the extended hours on my computer, lengthy Zoom meetings, and general responsibilities from junior year. I often start my homework later on in the evening, leading to my sacrificing sleep.
So I set a challenge for myself: to manage online school, after-school meetings, homework, and self-care, all while getting no less than eight hours of sleep. So far, it’s gone well! I’ve learned a few things along the way.
1. Set a hard stop for yourself!
When it’s almost 10:20 or 10:30 and I’m still not done with that assignment, I table it and get into the “if it’s not done now, then it won’t be done later in the night” mindset. This enables me to start winding down and reminds me that taking care of my mind and body is important. I also set reminders on my phone to prepare to sleep and use the “bedtime” setting on my phone, an option that turns off all notifications.
2. Meditate, read a book, or listen to music.
In a highly digitized world, it’s nearly impossible to go without looking at a screen one hour before bed. If you’re short on time, however, I recommend putting everything electronic far away from you. I meditate every day for ten minutes right before I go to sleep. I’ve found that it encourages my brain to wind down and remove anxious thoughts about the next day’s responsibilities.
3. Staying up until midnight or later and you want to go to sleep earlier, but can’t? Try this method:
Set a wake-up goal (say 7 a.m.), and gradually move bedtime earlier by ten minutes every three to four days. Avoid napping while using this method since it delays the release of melatonin at night.
Juniors Tanvi Rao and Eliana Shin agreed with my thoughts about quarantine sleep deprivation. When asked about any changes in her sleep schedule, Rao said, “Due to my more demanding course load this year, I have had to sacrifice a couple of hours of sleep each day. I also feel like lockdown has brought a lot of stress regarding the health and safety of my family, which makes falling asleep much more difficult.”
Shin agreed: “I’m actually getting less sleep than I had gotten a year ago. I have the energy to stay up later as I don’t go out as often!” Tanvi and Eliana both added that they read or listen to music in order to fall asleep.
Find what helps you to develop a healthy sleep schedule! Being well-rested is an essential part of student life and navigating these changing times.