As ‘sleep debt’ accumulates, students strive to stay awake


From gorging on caffeine or energy drinks to slapping oneself awake during class, sleep deprivation is a growing epidemic plaguing the halls of almost every high school in the nation.

Returning from summer vacation, many students are affected by the struggle to establish a steady sleeping schedule during the first few weeks of school.

“During the summer I slept at 5 p.m., and now I go to sleep at 12 a.m,” said sophomore Lena Shen.

Most students agree that attempting to balance schoolwork, after school activities, a social life and a steady sleep-wake schedule is extremely difficult, especially when faced with the task of meeting deadlines for homework assignments and tests.

With the addition of procrastinating, social media and extended screen time with electronics, it takes a longer time for students to retire to bed.

Students find themselves getting six to seven hours of sleep or less, instead of the recommended eight to nine hours, with such hectic schedules.

According to a study by Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about 70 percent of teens are not getting enough sleep. This means that 70 percent of teens have a higher chance of experiencing concentration difficulties, reduced academic performance and slow reflexes.

Chronic sleep deprivation may even cause depression, weight gain, anxiety and diabetes.

As a student’s sleep debt expands, it becomes harder to pay attention in class. No amount of caffeine is enough to keep conscious; information begins passing through one ear and out of the other, and the words in the textbook start to become a combination of letters that do not make sense.

In order to go through the year with an open mind, one must make establishing a steady and consistent sleep-wake schedule a priority.

According to, in order to establish a balanced sleep-wake schedule, one should try to wind down prior to going to bed by indulging in soothing activities, avoiding screen time with electronic devices one hour before sleeping or maintaining a healthy diet.

Being sleep deprived throughout the school year may deplete academic performance and transform students from lively human beings into desolate walking zombies.

In order to persevere through countless of lectures, finish assignments and maintain a positive attitude, students should create room for a vital eight to nine hours of sleep.

Screen Shot 2015-09-24 at 9.59.34 PM

Graphic by JAIMIE HSU

Leave a Reply