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Jessica Yang Headshot

Got Sleep?

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It is a truth universally acknowledged that high school students do not get enough sleep. (Sorry for butchering the famous Pride and Prejudice line, Jane Austen-ites.) On average, students get around seven hours of sleep, but I've been known to get way less than the average amount. (All-nighters, anyone?)

So it's no surprise when my Human Anatomy and Physiology teacher told my class that teenagers should get nine and a quarter hours of sleep, my first thought was "Carpe diem! I need to get my work done and sleep is just something that happens to be sacrificed in the process."

How silly I was! I sacrifice sleep to get my work done but I've definitely felt more sluggish in the process. I finally succumbed to my teacher's advice and decided to do some things to help my brain (and myself) out.

It turns out that teenagers actually need more sleep than children do because our minds are still growing. While this information may not be new, consider this: Learning continues during sleep. During sleep, the brain consolidates the lessons learned and goes over that lesson. Without a good night's sleep, the brain cannot perform its function well and the lesson is not fully learned.

Whether or not you know this, we've all felt it. The slower reflexes after long night? The feeling of being stumped when you know, with certainty, that you definitely reviewed what the question was testing you? That's due to your brain not getting enough rest therefore not going over the lesson when you're sleeping. What can you do to get the most out of the sleep you do get?

Take 20 minute naps.
Taking naps will make you feel more refreshed and more awake. It works and it's not that hard to do.

Study for tests two days before the test day instead of the day before the test.
As I've said earlier, the brain processes and goes over the previous day's lessons. If you study two days before, your brain can fully consolidate the information when you sleep. On the day before the test, review and look over what's going to be on the test. You're strengthening the neural connections, instead of making them.

Stay away from bright screens at least an hour before you sleep.
Make the most of what sleep you do get. Bright screens, such as cell phone screens, computer monitors, television screens etc., trick your mind into thinking it's daytime. Due to that, it's harder to fall asleep.

I haven't drastically changed my sleeping patterns but I've definitely felt more refreshed after taking naps. It's a little strange how a single 20-minute nap can help. I think this is a sign that we need our nap-times from kindergarten back. Who's with me?