The struggle for sleep: Northwest students share their difficulties getting enough sleep during the school year

Problems, solutions and methods used by Northwest students to battle a lack of sleep


Sophomore Landon Alison attempts to make the most of the few fleeting moments between 4th and 5th period.

On average, Northwest students get less and less sleep each year. This has to do with a difficulty in battling social media and procrastination and harder classes which give out large amounts of homework and difficult projects.

Sleep is a wonderful thing. You’ll probably hear friends and classmates complaining about how little sleep they get because of a big project or too much homework. In fact, at Northwest, the average number of hours of sleep per night is less than seven hours.

This is detrimental to students in many ways. Sleep deprivation contributes to lower academic performance and lack of concentration in class. Unfortunately, a lot of students don’t get enough sleep each night and this greatly impacts lives in and out of school.

“It’s really hard (to get enough sleep) because many people are involved in sports and extracurriculars. You’re a teenager and you want to go out and hang out with friends, but at the same time you want to have good grades so you feel like you have to sacrifice your social life, school life, or your sleep and you can only have two of the three.” junior Madison Bradley said.

Bradley said that she often doesn’t start her homework immediately when she a gets home.  Procrastination of homework is one of the main reasons why students don’t get enough sleep.

However, there may be a simple answer to this problem.    

“I am taking four AP classes, I have to budget my time. I work on homework during lunch and in the morning to maintain a reasonable amount of sleep,” junior Jesse Andrews, who regularly gets seven hours of sleep, said.

Working on homework at other times can increase the number of sleep students is able to get.  When students get more sleep, they are more likely to pay more attention in class.

“Every time I get six hours or less it really affects me at school.  I get really tired and I am yawning all day and I just want the day to just go faster.  I cannot focus at all.” Bradley said.

Lack of concentration during class has a negative impact on grades, a decrease in motivation as well as more significant levels of emotional and behavioral disturbances.

“Ideally, students would get about seven or eight hours of sleep a night.” AP World History and Psychology teacher Elizabeth Russell said.

As good as getting seven or eight hours of sleep a night sounds, with their busy schedules, many students find themselves unable to achieve this feat. Luckily, there are some solutions that can help students get more sleep.

“We need to watch out for our social media habits,” Russell said.

Social media is one of the things that take up a lot of time in a student’s day.  In fact, according to a Common Sense Media report, teens spend an average of nine hours per day on social media.  This contributes greatly to the problem of little sleep.

In addition to less social media time, another way teens can maximize the amount of sleep they get is by thinking ahead and decreasing their course load during the sign-up phase for classes at the end of the school year.

“If you’re taking 4 to 6 AP classes, where you’ve got an hours’ worth of homework for each of those (a night), you might want to make a decision before you go through with that schedule to you stick with it or not,” Russell said.

Taking into consideration the solutions provided above by Russell, some students who may not be getting their recommended hours of sleep may be able to gain a few extra hours to help them take on their day.

“(Students) need to make sacrifices,” Bradley said.  “So maybe you can’t go out with your friends; maybe you need to cut out Netflix.  In my personal case, I need to start it when I get home and not get distracted while I’m doing it.”  

Students are not alone in their plight for sleep for even Guilford County has taken extra steps in an attempt to give its students some more sleep.

“One thing that Guilford County does do well though is having us start school at 8:55 a.m.,” Russell said, “That’s pretty late for most high schools in the country.”