The debate of whether or not to guzzle multiple cups of coffee to stay awake long into the wee hours of the night in order to ensure all my assignments are completed, or turn in for a solid nine hours of sweet shut-eye is one that I, as a grade 11 student, as well as my peers, have faced a multitude of times.
It’s the anxiety that encroaches with each passing minute, dreadfully condensing with one another, until they leave a dent in your sleep quantity. However, this feeling is welcome compared to the angst that accompanies attending class with incomplete assignments.
News reports out of the U.S. suggest high-school students with a five-class course load are tasked with up to 17.5 hours of homework per-week, equating to approximately 3.5 hours per night. This is a tall-order for students to fit into busy schedules of sports practices, music lessons, rehearsals, and social life, all of which are important aspects of a high school education, alongside academics.
With such packed schedules, and a high commitment level for most extra-curricular activities, students are often left with no other choice than to forgo a necessary eight hour sleep.
Teachers may claim that lack of self discipline and time management are to blame, but as a student it is clear there are simply just not enough hours in the day to meet such extravagant homework expectations. Numerous studies have been published regarding the detrimental effects of sleep deprivation in teens. One by the Journal of Youth and Adolescence states, “each hour of lost sleep is associated with a 38 percent increase in the odds of feeling sad or hopeless, a 42 percent increase in considering suicide, a 58 percent increase in suicide attempts, and a 23 percent increase in substance abuse.”
With such horrific impacts on teenage mental health it is imperative we reform our current system to allow students to receive adequate sleep without additional stress of falling behind in the classroom. Educators may argue that the amount of homework assigned is necessary to complete the mandated curriculum.
However, in a research study by William E. Kelly and colleagues at the University of Nevada it was shown that students who slept less than 6 hours per night possessed significantly lower GPA’s than those who slept over 9 hours per night. This proves that the amount of homework students are receiving may not be beneficial to their academic endeavours.
It is crucial moving forward to consider all relevant data when constituting homework expectations, as an education system that supposedly improves students is now a considerable factor in the deterioration of their health.
– Contributed to Black Press Media by Ella Lane, a Grade 11 student at Shawnigan Lake Boarding School.