Is Sleep Really That Important?

Spoiler Alert! It is!

Dylan Tepera, Journalist

CTE Heath Occupations teacher Jacelyn Smith (Cecily Huntley)

Homework, school functions, and after-school plans– an average day in the life of a teenager. With everything that’s thrown at them, getting some shut-eye can be a hard thing to come by, but sleep is a vital aspect of everyone’s lives that is often overlooked. “Teenagers should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night; you cannot ‘catch up on the weekend’. It needs to be consistent,” Jaclyn Smith, CTE Health Occupations teacher said. How many times does this actually happen though?

It’s no secret most teenagers lack a healthy sleep schedule, but the biggest question is why. “I believe that the main reason why teenagers are not getting enough sleep is that they have too many obligations,” Smith said. “As a teacher, I don’t believe in homework. Teenagers need time for social interactions with their peers. I try to remember that teenagers are also working, participating in clubs and sports, and fulfilling obligations for their families. Oftentimes, students are staying up late trying to finish homework after all their other obligations are met.”

Freshman Grace Helms said, “What keeps me up is being excited or nervous about the day ahead.”

Teenagers are often under a lot of stress. Sometimes sleep is the last thing on their minds, but it’s still needed. “I think sleep is important, but most times schoolwork keeps me up, and sleep kind of loses prerogative,” said Helms.

According to social studies teacher Todd Stokes, “Long-term benefits of a good sleep pattern include decreased stress, improved mental health, improved concentration and reasoning, and decreased risk of cancer and heart disease.”

“At colleges, the rates of people with colds and viruses go way up towards the end of the semesters because students are stressed”

On the flip side, Stokes also discussed the repercussions of a poor sleep pattern. “Having a sleep debt (not getting your required amount of sleep) will definitely take years off your life if not addressed.” Throughout all the struggles you face, try to always take care of yourself. Always get enough sleep.

Along with mental health, the body’s physical health is greatly impacted by sleep as well. “Immune system functioning can be severely affected by a lack of sleep,” said Stokes. “At colleges, the rates of people with colds and viruses go way up towards the end of the semesters because students are stressed (final exams, papers, etc.) and not sleeping well. So, their immune functioning is compromised, and they can’t fight off the germs and viruses as easily as they could earlier in the semester.”

“Sleep is the time when our body regenerates and heals,” said Smith. “If we aren’t giving our brain adequate time to recharge, it’s like using a cell phone with an old, overcharged battery– it runs out quickly.”