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Sorry Teachers, But My Sleep Is More Important Than Homework

04/23/2015 12:56 pm ET | Updated Jun 23, 2015

Junior year: a time of studying, stress and anxiety about our futures. For many of us, the college process begins the August or September of our junior year. We wake up very early to go to school, maybe even earlier to meet with a teacher, complete our extracurricular activities, come home to have a quick dinner, talk for eight minutes with our parents and do homework until we fall asleep. But then we remember. We have to look at the ACT packet one more time. Half asleep, we run downstairs to get the ACT book, and start studying. Section 1, section 2, section 3. Fifteen to 30 minutes a day is what they say keeps low ACT scores away. We spend hours going over where to put a comma in a sentence, or how to apply the Pythagorean theorem. After this, we finally get to turn off the lights, and drift away to sleep. And then six hours later, we do it all over again.

This is a snapshot of the daily routine of many high school juniors. For those of you juniors who are reading this, I sympathize with you. Just know that in a few months, it will all be over. For readers who were once juniors, congratulations on making it through. And for the readers who are soon to be juniors... well... good luck.

In my freshmen health class, my teacher told us that teenagers need at least eight to nine hours of sleep each night. In a Utopian society, this would be possible. The sad truth is, with extra curricular activities, ACT/SAT test preparation, after school sports and music, excessive homework and pressure to do well, high school juniors cannot maintain this sleep schedule. As much as our growing minds and bodies crave nine hours of sleep each night, there is no time.

Let me ask you all a question: Doesn't it seem more humane to assign a teenager perhaps two hours of homework each night? This would allow us a tiny bit of down time after a long day of school, 6:00 AM tennis practice, music lessons, ACT preparation, Robotics club or sports. Two hours of homework would enable us to have that coveted eight to nine hours of much needed sleep. Or does it seem better to pile juniors with five hours of work a night, leaving very little time to relax, therefore decreasing the amount of time that they can sleep? If you are sane, then you should choose the former. Teenagers need more sleep. The future success of our society depends on changing the bad habits of burying our youth with work and depriving us of sleep.

In my opinion, junior year of high school is a time for growth. By junior year many students have the ability to think critically, and solve challenging problems. Separation from peers and parents may begin as we start to prepare for college. The current structure of the junior year is troubling and inefficient. Students should not lumber into class half asleep or doze off in their early morning physics class. I do think that flipping the classroom literally means flipping your schedule, so that way we sleep at home, and learn at school. I think that we need to prioritize sleep over homework. Yes, homework is crucial for a student's growth. But do we really need to spend countless hours a night doing it? Let's make a change. Change junior year.

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