This Mortal Coil

“Sleep is for wimps.”

“You have a long time to sleep when you’re dead.”

“What’s more important: giving in, or getting things done?”

I admit it: I’ve said all these things in reference to sleep. My own sleep habits have been terrible since birth. My mother says it’s a miracle she didn’t simply smother me to keep me from crying in the crib–she doesn’t think she slept for more than four hours at a time for the first two years of my life. (My mother, on the other hand, could be a professional sleeper, and takes great joy in a good night’s rest or a two-hour nap.)

At MSMS, of course, despite my efforts at levity, sleep deprivation is no laughing matter. Students regularly burn the candle at both ends in their efforts to earn the scores they want in classes, participate in extra-curricular activities, and maintain something of a social life. I’m not sure how to measure the cost to their physical health and mental well-being. However, I recently dipped into the subject of sleep studies and found evidence that the price is high

Sleep scientists have for years advocated starting school later in the day to accommodate the hormonal changes in teens’ bodies. That may work well for teens; it may not work so well for the adults charged with educating them. It may also be appropriate to rethink the “school-life” balance. Is it possible to have students do less and achieve more? 

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16 Responses to This Mortal Coil

  1. Whitney Fairley says:

    The way to prevent sleep deprivation with a busy schedule is good planning. Lets say I go to school from 8-4. I have homework in 3 classes and a club meeting at seven. If my homework only takes 3 hours to finish, then my schedule will be more efficient if I do the bulk of my homework before the seven o clock meeting, then if I do it after the meeting. Waiting around to get things done is probably the biggest and most pain-causing mistake that I made my first semester at MSMS. Whenever I pushed back doing my homework, I was also taking away from how much sleep I got. This affected how much I payed attention and stayed awake during my classes the next day. This spiral of events could have been easily prevented if I would have planned my schedule to begin with.

  2. Taylor Shamblin says:

    Burning the candle at both ends becomes a daily occurrence at MSMS. This makes it rather difficult to obtain all of the necessary hours of sleep that researchers have proven that young adults need. In fact, it becomes nearly impossible. Coming from a student who has not had an 8 A.M. class all year, it turns out that the extra hour of sleep just becomes another reason to stay up that extra hour the night before- working on papers or simply watching ¨one more YouTube video.¨ Other students, saving the few that never needed the extra hour of sleep, echoed how they, too, cashed in their spare hours for assignments and activities rather than sleep. Even those who do not attend schools like MSMS say how their sleeping patterns have not been up to par for years now. When I would ask them why they have not been sleeping their ¨recommended 8-10 hours¨, they simply say that they had more important things to do.

    To achieve this minimum requirement of 8 hours, children must go to bed at 10 o´clock and wake up at 6 (most public schools starting at ~7:49). The hours that children go to bed seem to become a personal choice. Parents trust their kids to go to bed after they are told, but during this age of instant gratification through social media, Netflix, YouTube, and the World Wide Web, children are more easily able to evade the soothing darkness of a bedroom with the awakening light of the LEDs from their phones and computers. This, in turn, places the control of one´s sleep cycle in the hands of the student rather than the school district.

    This means, children need to be educated about the importance of maintaining a healthy sleep cycle during their youth in order to execute proper sleeping habits throughout their adulthood. Children and parents alike need to take the information given by sleep scientists like Dr. Troxel, and utilize it to facilitate environments that ready themselves for a productive day with a fully rested and awakened mind. Thank you for coming to my TedTalk.

  3. Nathan Lee says:

    Starting school later may sound like a good solution, but a good number of students would likely still be sleep deprived and tired. It’s true that some students sleep later to do homework and study. However, there are many people who have bad habits and sleep late despite not being busy. Procrastination also plays a large role in sleep deprivation because starting work later means finishing it later as well. In my opinion, starting schools later would only shift a student’s schedule by how much later school starts than usual. For example, if school started one hour later, I believe students would tend to sleep one hour later if their daily routine does not change. It’s far more helpful for the student to develop a sleep schedule or rethink their schedule.

  4. Catherine says:

    I don’t think starting school later because students will stay up late no matter what time school starts. I don’t know if doing less can allow students to achieve more. Perhaps if a student did less extracurricular activities, they’d be able to spend more time on school work and achieve better grades. I think it’s about finding a balance between school and everything else. I know at MSMS most students are involved in at least two extracurricular activities, and not because they have to be for privilege plans. Students at MSMS are so interested in trying new activities. However, when a student has three meetings after school, a tone of homework and possibly tests/quizzes to study for, sleep is not likely to come. Not to mention students at MSMS have workservice and try to make time to eat. I think it might be a good idea to put a limit on how many clubs/sports you can be involved in. Or maybe put criteria for how many clubs/sports you can do based on how well you’re doing with grades. Overall I think students try to do too much and push off sleep. Even if there was a way for students to do less and achieve more, I think they’d still stay up late anyways.

  5. Kerrigan A Clark says:

    I think that do less and achieve more concept is something that should and could be implemented in so many schools. The most important place that we could implement this concept is completing state tests. If schools focused less on state tests, students would get more out of going to school. I’ve talked to plenty of students who have left my hometown school and gone to college, and they’ve said that they were not prepared for college. If schools focused less on state tests, students would achieve more in the classroom which could prepare them more for some of the most important tests like ACT, SAT, and PSAT.

  6. DJF says:

    I do believe that do less, achieve more is great in theory, but horrible in practice. Last year, I had a very open schedule. My classes started later in the morning and ended early in the afternoon, yet I still stayed up until all hours of the night. Starting later would not help students get sleep, because all we would see is an opportunity to stay up later and waste time. You have to learn to adjust to a more mature lifestyle. Keep track of what you need done with a planner, set yourself a bedtime, stop wasting time watching Netflix and do your work instead; you can balance your life better by doing these things. I am a senior with a full class load and tons of college stuff to follow up on. If I can manage my time, maintain a social life, have decent grades, a get adequate sleep, I believe anyone can if they put forth the effort.

  7. T says:

    That depends on what your definition of “achievement” is. We’ve been taught and shown from a young age that success is taking as many advanced classes as possible and coming out with straight As, that it is winning academic and athletic competitions, that it is material. Until our mindsets shift away from that, you can’t achieve more by doing less. That defeats the whole point.

    But it shouldn’t be like that. Every person is unique, and that means every person has unique goals and abilities. There comes a point when by doing too much, those things have no genuine meaning. It just becomes a title. There is not a strong, prominent passion for the things that you do. It’s like doing it to say you did it, and in the process, you give up your health by spreading yourself too thin.

    So in order to achieve more while doing less, students shouldn’t be expected/forced to do as much. Sometimes, it’s about the learning process and growing as a student and a person. The students should make the choice whether they want that 8AM or not. It’s difficult to enforce the later start at a school like MSMS though because isn’t that the reason we’re here? Because we’ve always been the students that went above and beyond? We can’t push the entire academic school day back an hour because that hour is valuable time for the students that would rather be learning.

    But it’s definitely something that should be in place for regular public schools my own hometown. I’ll be honest, those students aren’t going to be learning anymore starting at 8AM than at 9AM. Majority of them would most likely do just the same, or even better, academically with the extra hour of sleep.

  8. Erin says:

    I think students could do less and acheive more. If we didn’t have so many classes, we could fit in more time to study for certian classes, meaning we could do better in school overall. Not to mention the ACT, PSAT, SAT studying we could get done that could result in higher test scores. I don’t think the school day should start later, but if we had fewer classes, that could make all kinds of good stuff happen.

  9. Ryan Holdiness says:

    I think that as the young adults we are just have to find the balance. We do less but achieve the same. My sleeping schedule has not been the best for the last few years and I doubt i’ll fix it anytime soon, but I still find the energy and time to do the things I want and I still make time for homework. It’s just about how much effort you’re willing to put into stuff. Distractions seem to take up a lot of time while doing homework that’s why it seems to take people four hours to do their mastering chem. when realistically it could have been done anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour. The mental health of students is at a steady decline and sleep is one of the best treatments, but it just becomes easier when it becomes the normality around you when everyone is being slightly sleep deprived.

  10. X says:

    Is it possible to have students do less and achieve more?

    Scheduling classes back an hour will not be a good choice for students at MSMS. There is a lot of flexibility in the schedules here, and many people don’t have classes until 9 or 10 am, and end classes at 2 or 3 pm. The courses are chosen by the students, so for workload, it is what they put on themselves. I do agree that, for me, juggling 3 APs, 2 Universities, and a variety of extracurricular activities, sleep is often not the priority. I understand, like most students, that sleep is important for the health and growth of the mind and body. However, the stress and pressure caused by today’s schooling tear that time away.

    It is not very possible for students to do less and achieve more. Doing less means not spending as much time in a class, leading to not as much homework, which leads to less information taught. The time taken away has to be compensated somehow, or else the overall knowledge gained is significantly decreased. This decrease can impair the amount that a student can achieve. Therefore, despite this imbalance, I believe that it is crucial for teenagers to be in an academic environment as it is.

  11. Bubba says:

    If you viewed the link attached in the blog, you will find a sleep researcher explaining the importance of sleep for teenagers, like us, during our adolescent years. At this age, we are going through a biological change in which sleep deprivation can take a huge toll on. According to the video, the amount of sleep recommended for teenagers are eight to ten hours, with eight being the MINIMUM, like making a C on your report card. The speaker further reveals statistical benefits of areas where school starts at a later time, such as the amount of car accidents decreasing 70% and school absences dropping by 25%. One conclusion made from researching the mechanics of teenagers is that biological changes in the body results in a biological clock where melatonin isn’t released until 11pm. This means that starting school later WILL NOT push a student’s sleep time further back, unless they consume large quantities of caffeine to compensate and fight the sleep loss.

  12. Mykailla Foster says:

    At some point in your life, people are going to have to learn how to balance the essential things. Starting the school day later wouldn’t stop students from going to sleep at 2 in the morning. It’s best to make a schedule that works for you and start with the small things. Like when you catch yourself on your phone doing nothing, pull out your computer and wok on the mastering chem instead. People tend to prioritize the absolute wrong things leading them to have to suffer consequences. Coming from someone that has a full schedule, I understand how hectic it can seem at time but it’s all about how you manage your time, trust me everybody knows how to sneak in a 30 minute nap if they really want to.

  13. Alyssa says:

    I think that as a teenager, getting more seep and/or sleeping being able to sleep in later helps a lot in school. I would not be able to complete half of the work that I do here on the same sleeping schedule as I had going to my previous school. At my home school I would have to wake up every morning to be able to get ready and eat a proper breakfast. Here I can wake up at 7:00 or later and manage to get ready, eat a quick breakfast in the cafeteria, and still have time to spare. Some other students might even be able to wake even later depending on their personal schedule I believe that these few extra hours help tremendously, and without them I probably wouldn’t still here without them because I can also be a professional sleeper.

  14. KT says:

    I believe that at this point in time, we are all just trying to find balance between study, work, hobbies, sleep, etc. Some students will find this balance but most will not. I would love if school started later but I don’t actually know how well it would help. If school began later, it would end later as well, so homework would be started on later, and sleep time would be pushed even further back. The start of school doesn’t really mean all the much for students who are choosing not to sleep at all. Personally, procrastination is the biggest reason I have for not getting enough sleep, but that is just something that I need to change.

  15. Geneva Hamilton says:

    Yes, I do believe students can do less and achieve more. As young adults, we are still developing and sleep is essential to that. Lots of MSMS kids are given at least one block off. I think redistributing that break in order for school to begin later would be great. If my free 4th period block was taken away in order for school to start an hour later I wouldn’t be angry. With the extra sleep gained, students would be more focused on lessons being taught to them.

  16. Xavier Lucas-Cooper says:

    At this point in my life, the amount of sleep that I get and the performance at which I achieve at is adequate. At MSMS, not all students have an early morning class that they have to attend. If they do, they catch up on sleep during their off periods (even though we are not supposed to). I do think that it is possible for students to do less and achieve more due to the fact that the status at which they achieve depends on the levity of what they are trying to achieve. However, I do admit that I owe myself some more time for sleep, but like I mentioned before, my sleep to performance ratio produces a beneficial result, so I do not see anything that I can change for me in this situation. On the other hand, the act of students doing less to reach greater things is definitely possible, if not for other students, definitely MSMS students.

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