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To Sleep or Not To Sleep, That is the Question

My heart rate speeds up as my alarm continues to blare. 5…4…3…2…1, I count down in my head. Reaching 1, I slide myself to the edge of the bed and stand on my legs that feel as though they are made of lead. Squinting and rubbing my eyes as my room comes into focus, I reach aimlessly into the dark struggling to turn off my alarm that continues to remind me that a new day has begun. I sigh as I turn off the alarm and quickly process the day ahead. Today I will be running off of 5 hours of sleep. Early Bird Lifting, school day, soccer practice, dinner, chores, shower, homework, bed. Am I missing something? I don’t know, I have to start getting ready. 

We each hear it over and over again—we need good sleep to function. Yet, as I talk with friends and family, we laugh at the fact that many of us are running off of little to no sleep. If we are aware of the fact that sleep is important, why is it something that is so often overlooked? 188 responses from North Scott students and staff showed that we are each aware of the sleep that we are told we need, but when we don’t receive enough, this is when our daily lives can become negatively affected. 

In society today, it can be difficult to get good rest. Our days are packed tight with activities before school, followed by the school day itself, and finally more activities after school. We each have our own responsibilities at home, along with balancing our social life

with friends and family. Somedays it can seem as if we have so much to do and yet such little time. It can leave us stressing late into the night even after our busy day. About 85% of those surveyed said they wish they could get more sleep. But how much sleep should we be getting in the first place to feel refreshed? 

Maybe you have taken the Psychology course here at the high school, or maybe you are aware of the myth that you should be getting eight hours of sleep per night. While it is good to aim for eight hours, it's not a necessity for each individual to get this exact amount. Recent studies have found that the amount of sleep you need to feel your best is subjective to your own circadian rhythm—how your body's behaviors fluctuate throughout 24 hours. This is when the importance of listening to your body comes into play. There may be nights when you are already tired at an earlier time than usual, and this would be your sign to head to bed and listen to your body's needs. There are other nights when we find ourselves feeling just fine with plenty enough energy to stay up with friends or whatever it may be. Understanding that each of our sleep schedules fluctuates, will allow us to stress less when we aren't hitting that target of eight hours per night.

Hours of Sleep Per Night for NSHS Students and Staff

From the survey, the highest amount, about 34%, said they get an estimated seven hours of sleep per night. The next highest percentage is eight hours of sleep, six hours of sleep, and so on pictured in the pie chart above. For most of those who participated in the poll, I was surprised to see a majority of people getting a higher amount of sleep than I would have thought. 84% of people shared that when they do not get enough sleep, however, they feel as though their day is negatively affected, such as the inability to get tasks done successfully. 

We each struggle with sleep time and time again. We each deal with days where we wake up only to look forward to getting rest later that night. From the National Institute of Health, some of the best ways to ensure a better night’s sleep are:

  • sticking to a sleep schedule

  • getting exercise throughout the day (not close to bedtime)

  • getting outside during the day

  • limiting electronics before bed

  • trying to do an activity instead of lying awake in bed

Often at night, we climb into bed to rest, but our minds have already begun to worry about tomorrow. Despite the joy or chaos of the day, try to go to sleep knowing that each day is new. In a few hours, you will be up again to face the day, but with the sleep that you need, it is nothing you cannot handle.

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