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Sleep vs Homework: Sleep Deprivation in Students

With extracurriculars, sports and volunteering on top of loads of homework, students sometimes have to choose between staying up late to complete homework or having a good night’s rest. In a 2010 study found in The Journal of Adolescent Health, only eight percent of high school students receive the recommended amount of sleep, which is around nine to ten hours, with many students reporting sleeping six hours or less on school nights. Senior Matthew Sargent related, stating, “Due to my heavy academic and extracurricular schedule I’m forced to sacrifice either work or sleep, and I choose to sacrifice sleep to keep up with my grades and extracurricular activities.”

While students need to complete assignments for the points to keep their grades afloat, sacrificing sleep time actually results in loss of focus at school, worse health, decreased productivity and lower test scores (according to the Child Mind Institute); in fact, there is a positive correlation between GPA and average hours of sleep each night.

Although an excess of homework is often the culprit behind a lack of sleep, another major factor is screen time. It is easy for teens to blame the homework load for not being able to sleep enough while spending an average of nine hours a day online, according to Common Sense Media, granted that some of that time may be committed to school-related assignments and activities. However, the majority of that screen time is on phones, on games and on social media, for cell phones are a major source of distraction and can cause students to spend much more time on homework due to pausing to look at memes on Instagram or checking their Snap messages every few minutes.

Too much homework is a problem, though, and because more is assigned at each grade level, average sleep decreases at each level as a direct result; therefore, the forced choice between homework and sleep comes up more and more often the more a student progresses through school. Looking at the detrimental effects of not sleeping enough, it is more beneficial long term to health and grades to choose sleep over staying up late to finish that last assignment.

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