Everyone knows that teens are under intense pressure to not only produce stellar grades, but also excel in numerous extracurricular activities as well. The problem is that there’s only 24 hours in a day. Add to this 4-6 hours of homework in the most competitive private and public high schools, and the first thing to get sacrificed is sleep.
In this New York Times article on the stresses of too much homework in independent schools, one student newspaper at a prestigious private school published an article last year showing that upper school students slept an average of 6.5 hours per night. I was shocked to see this. You may think that this is not too bad, but consider this: A teenager should be sleeping 9 to 10 hours per night.
There are tomes of research showing what chronic long-term sleep deprivation does for people in general, but these negative effects are even more magnified in developing teens’ brains and bodies. It’s not surprising that rate of anxiety and depression are are at already too high levels, and a lot of students are just burning out (mentally and physically). Many of these problems will ultimately manifest when they get to college, where sleep deprivation and poor eating and sleep habits become even worse. This is why the incidence of depression peaks in the college years.
I realize there’s no easy solution to this problem, but someone has to take a stand and say enough is enough. What do you think about this issue?