Homework: The Cause of Sleep Deprivation? Or is it More Than That?

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Homework: The Cause of Sleep Deprivation? Or is it More Than That?

Michelle Galdi, Chief Editor

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A typical day at Park Ridge High School consists of sitting in various classrooms from 7:45 to 2:44. However, school carries on much longer than those designated times.

Students are constantly preoccupied with homework after school, and, to delve into just how much work students have, I interviewed Sandra Ortega, Alex Uva, Isabella Wise, Susie Rubenstein, and Josh Zdanowicz about the after-school obligations that consume their time, like homework.

All students stated that they feel like they have too much homework, taking an average of 3-4 hours to complete”

All students stated that they feel like they have too much homework, taking an average of 3-4 hours to complete. Sandra said that the bulk of her homework comes from her Calculus, Anatomy and French classes. Considering all of those classes are Honors courses, it is reasonable that the homework requirement would be considerable. Additionally, AP classes often prove to be even harder, considering they are similar to college level classes. Alex’s AP English and AP European History homework takes him the longest, along with Susie’s AP Psychology class. Even without the added expectations of Honors and AP courses, students are still preoccupied with other time-consuming activities.

Along with homework, students juggle additional obligations after school, including sports and clubs. Izzy told me that she is “a dancer and an assistant dance teacher” so she “is always at the studio for an hour, then [goes] home to eat dinner, then [goes] back to dance for another 3 hours.” Her long day of dance finally finishes around 10:30 when she gets home and starts her homework. Josh is one of the many students who participate in school sports. He stated that, “during cross country season, it was impossible to get homework done.” When he got home from practice, all he wanted to do was go to bed, unmotivated to do any work. However, sometimes obligations do not always revolve around sports. Everyday after school, Sandra has to pick up her younger sister and her friends from school and she has work occasionally, which tends to eat up her time. Sports, homework, family, and work responsibilities tend to pile up on students.

Similar to the data provided by the Nationwide Children’s hospital, the majority of Park Ridge High School receive between six and eight hours of sleep.”

As a result of staying up late to complete their daily tasks, students lose precious hours of sleep. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, teenagers need between nine and nine and a half hours of sleep. However, teenagers only get an average of 7 hours. Investigating further in this statistic, I reached out to a random sample of students and recorded their average hours of sleep over a few days. Similar to the data provided by the Nationwide Children’s hospital, the majority of Park Ridge High School receive between six and eight hours of sleep.

 

Chart Credit: Mike Pantaleo

Being sleep deprived can lead to feeling incredibly irritable and tired the next day. Additionally, if a lack of sleep continues, it can affect one’s overall health, making them susceptible to serious medical conditions like obesity, heart disease, and high blood pressure. Sleep is one of the most important things for developing teens. So, how could this conflict be resolved?

I asked the students what they think should be done to change the issue of having too much responsibilities. A few weeks ago, myself and a few of my classmates had to take four tests in one day, resulting in us staying up late in order to study. Sandra, one of my classmates who had to take those four tests, wished that, “teachers [would] coordinate better with each other when they are giving large assignments or tests. The lack of this can cause scheduling issues.” One of those four tests was taken in Mr. Wilson’s Anatomy Honors class, so I spoke to him about the issue. He stated that “kids need to be their own advocates.” If they notice that a bunch of assignments or tests are racking up on their schedules, they need to reach out to their teachers and let them know of their other obligations. If they fail to do so, then it is no longer the teacher’s fault, but that of the student. Izzy came up with the suggestion that homework being optional if you understand what is going on in a class. However, she argued that “if you are struggling with the material, it should be mandatory.” These alternatives might possibly be able to solve some of the problems with homework.

Kids need to be their own advocates.”

— Mr. Wilson, Science Teacher

On the other hand, the problem does not solely sit in the issue of homework. Mr. Wilson argued that “time management comes into play,” since students, “wait until the last second to complete things, instead of doing it in small increments over a longer time.” Additionally, “kids feel like they have to join all the clubs and sports.” He stated that there are just too many things going on and so many plates to juggle, eventually something is going to drop. To help solve the overall problem of not only having too much homework, but also the time that sports and clubs consume, Mr. Wilson thinks that having a block schedule can alleviate some of the conflict. Whether the issue is homework or sports, students and teachers both agree that there is a problem. Time management is a large factor that impacts students sleeping time and performance in school. Solutions like homework being more optional, teachers coordinating the scheduling of projects and tests, students advocating for themselves, and block scheduling can all be effective.