Catching A’s Instead of Z’s

Jasica Twardus, Feature Reporter

When grades begin to slip, students are usually advised to reexamine their lifestyles. Parents advise their kids to spend more time studying and less time with friends meanwhile teachers assume the students need to pay more attention in class. However, many people fail to recognize their sleeping schedule. Sleep is a crucial part of being able to use cognitive processes effectively. By depriving a person of sleep, they are not only physically tired but so is that person’s brain. Lack of sleep hurts the attention span of students who already are pummeled by tons of distracting sources. A lack of Z’s also has shown a negative impact on reasoning, problem solving, and alertness. All of these symptoms affect the process of obtaining knowledge. However, sleep deprivation does not stop there. It can cause materials and facts that one has thought to have learned to suddenly become forgotten. This strange tragedy can be explained by the sleep process. When a person is sleeping their memories of that day are “consolidated” and thus solidified in their memory. However, this affirmation of learned experiences cannot take place if the individual does not obtain an adequate amount of sleep. The result is the loss of learned material and even forgetting actions that the person did during the day.
So it is through this information that sleep can be tagged as crucial to not only a person’s physical well-being but also his or her mental health. When it comes to student life this essential aspect can be hard to manage. Students must juggle homework, studying for tests, and after school activities. This work is bound to push one’s sleep schedule to its limits. Sleep specialists have found several steps that aid in the pursuit of Z’s.
Specialists advise patients to “hit the hay” at a set time every day. This will help keep one’s inner “body clock” on time and result in that individual adjusting to the bedtime. Overtime the individual will ache for sleep around the set time and not waste hours trying to fall asleep. Even though school and weekend life differs greatly specialists prompt individuals to carry through with the set sleep and wake schedule. Interestingly, professionals state that if one needs an alarm clock to wake up he or she may not be getting enough sleep. Just by considering the amount of tardies in morning classes in comparison with afternoon classes, the question of whether this is a problem at MCHS is clearly answered. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention also supports this. The professional group has identified that almost 70 percent of teenagers are not getting the recommended hours of sleep. That means that out of the approximate 1,800 students at MCHS, 1,260 are not getting their eight to ten hours of sleep.
A factor that may chew at sleep time is naps. Several students believe that they are helping themselves by coming home and making up for the hours of shut eye they missed during the night. Contrary to belief, this unhealthy habit can hurt them in the long run. Even though it is better to nap during the day as opposed to sleeping in later, the naps should be limited. They should be taken during the early afternoon. Also, they should not stretch past thirty minutes. By following these small steps one can avoid throwing off his or her body clock yet still make up for lost sleep. Specifically for those who suffer from insomnia, or the inability to sleep, napping should be avoided completely.
When further examining the adolescent populace, one aspect is thoroughly recognizable: technology. Believe it or not this heavy distributed aspect affects the quality of sleep. Light exposure facilitates the production of melatonin. This is the hormone in the body that makes one sleepy when night approaches. As it gets darker melatonin production increases as it gets darker outside and vice versa during the daytime. However, the body’s melatonin levels are limited due to exposure to light from technology even when night time is near.
Professionals recommend avoiding the use of TV or phones late at night. If one can simply not miss a late night show, record it for later viewing. Also, by downloading an app called “F.lux,” the brightness on a phone can be turned down from “cool” to “warm” and thus be easier on the eyes, or in other words, melatonin levels. Another suggestion relates to light bulbs used in bedrooms. Low-wattage bulbs should be used to prevent the brain from stopping the production of melatonin. Finally be sure that the room is completely dark when going to bed. The darker the room, the better quality of sleep one will achieve. Students may also want to find a seat near the window during classes. The sunlight exposure will suppress melatonin levels and prevent any class naps.
By bringing just one of these simple aspects into an individual’s daily schedule, fatigue levels can be dramatically decreased. Sleep can be something done at home and not in the classroom. These tips can once again make learning the prime concern in the classroom.

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