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What causes the lack of sleep among students at Eagle Rock?

Art by Grace Gill

Gen Z is notorious for their lack of sleep. Whether it’s from homework, studying, or just scrolling on their phones, the assumption that teenagers are up late is something no one can deny. Backtracking to the beginning of this journey, however, we wondered how this lack of sleep applies to Eagle Rock students, so we sent a survey out to find out exactly how much sleep the students at our school get.

Going into this topic, we knew the suggested amount of sleep of 8-10 hours wouldn’t match up with the responses we got from the students, but nevertheless, we set out to discover the facts about our student population and more importantly to explore WHY it’s important to get the proper amount of sleep.

Growing up, we’re constantly told by doctors and parents about the benefits of sleep in relation to our physical health and the growth of our bodies; however, it’s important to bear in mind that sleep is also crucial in maintaining our mental health and helping us thrive academically and socially. According to the CDC, teenagers need around 9 hours of sleep in order to feel alert and well-rested. We have to remember that as growing and developing people, sleep is crucial to maintaining a certain level of well-being, ultimately leading to success.

According to a study done by Carnegie Mellon, students who get less than 6 hours of sleep experienced a decrease in academic performance and success. To be exact, it correlated to a 0.7 decrease in GPA. However, we know that the scientific recommendations aren’t always achievable. They provide a baseline for what we should aim for, but it doesn’t mean we necessarily will be able to get there. It’s a given that as middle school and high schoolers, there are pressing demands like homework and extracurriculars that take up our time, forcing us to stay up later than we should, and stopping us from being able to maximize our sleep. 

As aforementioned, to find out how all of this applied to the students at our school, we created a Google form asking questions about sleep schedules, bedtime, and sleep goals. We sent it out to the students to find out how much sleep they get compared to their sleep goals, as well as what time they usually go to bed. We collected responses from multiple grades, and the results confirmed much of what we had expected going into this but also offered some new and surprising insights.

Based on our survey of 84 students at ERHS, about half of the students get around seven hours of sleep, and most of the other half get less than six. Only around 10% actually get the necessary nine hours that teenagers are recommended. Approximately 85% of students at Eagle Rock go to sleep after 11 pm, making it nearly impossible to have nine hours of sleep and get to school on time.

Despite this clear lack of sleep, most students reported knowing how much sleep they should be getting, though they continue to fall short on hours. This left us wondering what causes this lack of sleep. Is it caused by phones and social media like TikTok and Instagram? Or is it caused by having to stay up late doing schoolwork? Does it depend on the individual, or is there a common pattern among students? Some of these questions were left unanswered, but we were able to confirm that our findings are comparable to that of the national data of young people around the same age group.

According to the national statistics, teenagers get around 7 to 7.5 hours of sleep which matches up with the data we collected from ER students. The number of hours may not be enough sleep for a healthy, well-functioning student, but it’s a relief to know that we aren’t too far behind. Taking into consideration the statistics concerning sleep at our school, in the nation, and also the recommended amount of sleep, we conclude that that students should aim for around 8 hours of nightly sleep. The 8 hours can be instrumental to developing a physically and emotionally healthy routine and give you the brain boost to stay alert and focused in class.

After asking around we found that a majority of the students on campus said that the reason they aren’t maximizing their sleep is because of their phones. This rings true to our generation considering the rising amount of time youth have been spending on their devices. Not only does this have a negative impact on our sleep, but on our development as humans. Time and time again we’ve seen the negative impacts on our thinking patterns and social skills, and even if it requires a little sacrifice to get there, try it out and we can promise you’ll see the benefits!

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I love this insight. I think a lot of kids are overloaded with homework and, when you’re forced to stay up late to finish a project or a paper, it’s harder to mentally wind down to fall asleep. I’d love for everyone to have less homework!

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