Sleep Deprivation

Rylan Cannon, Staff Writer

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On a Tuesday morning at Big Sky High School, senior Devon Howard sits tired at her desk, suffering the sleepy morning schedule of her second period. She sits eyelids barely open, as she tries not to pass out from exhaustion. Due to her lack of sleep she passes out during the class movie.

Sleep is something we all need as humans and it can affect the daily work and academics we perform. It is vital to our everyday lives and it can affect our personalities. Students, for instance, are very much affected by sleep and it can determine a lot of their future.

Sleep allows our body and minds to regain lost energy as well as process the day’s events and intakes.  “Until the 1950s, most people thought of sleep as a passive, dormant part of our daily lives. We now know that our brains are very active during sleep. Moreover, sleep affects our daily functioning and our physical and mental health in many ways that we are just beginning to understand,”according to the American Sleep Association website.

Howard tells how lack of sleep has affected her. “I’m very tired, very often at school. My exhaustion probably has something to do with the times I go to sleep, and wake up. I normally get about 4-6 hours.” When asked if school impacts her sleep schedule, and if she believes it has a major impact on her sleep schedule she said “Yes, school does have an impact,” adding, “It definitely plays a major role.”

This doesn’t just affect students, but parents of students as well, such as Natalie Jaeger, who is the principal of Big Sky as well as a mother. She believes that “teenagers are sharper and brighter and more alert based on their brain development later in the morning.” She says “in an ideal world where I wouldn’t have to worry about logistics I would like staggered schedules for students.” She said it would also be problematic because it would impact after school activities such as jobs and extracurriculars activities.

Sleep doesn’t just affect the classroom. Recent studies have also shown that driving while sleepy is almost as bad as driving while drunk. “A study by researchers in Australia showed that being awake for 18 hours produced an impairment equal to a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) of .05, and .10 after 24 hours; .08 is considered legally drunk.” according to the National Sleep Association.

Do you remember that job that you were denied or that fight you got in with your friend because of your mood? Well that could be partially related to sleep as sleep can affect our behavior. Sleep Education has done studies showing that inadequate sleep can cause specific mood changes in children. Dr. Jodi Mindell who is the Associate Director of Sleep Education said “not getting enough sleep really affects every aspect of a child’s well-being and functioning.” This can cause problems for children and adults alike.

Jaeger said that there’s a lot less discussion in first period, and she would like to see that change. She “supports the research about brain development about teens and that getting up later.”

The possibility of a change could be discussed in the future. For now though, Devon Howard and the rest of the student body will have to fight against sleep deprivation.