The Harbinger Online

Sleep Tips for the Lethargic High Schooler


It’s 11 p.m. and I have yet to make a dent in my pile of homework. Between studying for a biology test, reading “The Great Gatsby”, finishing a radicals worksheet and working on five maps, I’m exhausted. But tonight will be another sleepless night; another night filled with homework. And I must resist the urge to crawl into my bed.

As high school students, we’ve all been there. Those days when school becomes more important than sleep and we must chose between getting an A or those coveted 8 hours of sleep. In fact, only 15% of high school students reported getting the recommended 8-10 hours of sleep a night, according to the National Sleep Foundation.

Failing to reach the recommended amount of sleep can cause many mental problems – a decrease in concentration, limits in memory and the inability to solve problems, to name a few. Translation: staying awake during a precalc lesson on exponents may be struggle.

But sleep doesn’t only affect the mind. Lack of sleep can cause the body to gain weight and acne breakouts. And no one finds it fun to wake up with a huge pimple on their forehead.

As junior year begins, I want – correction – need to be on my game every day. And that starts with sleep. I challenge you to try these tips for a better night’s rest this school year:

    1. Don’t procrastinate. After school, go home, eat a quick snack and get to work. This will allow you to finish homework earlier and get to sleep on time, instead of starting homework at 9 p.m.
    2. Limit caffeine. While stopping at the coffee shop after a late night gives you a quick pick-me-up, caffeine can affect your sleep at night. Try to limit caffeine  to one cup of coffee per day, the earlier in the morning, the better.
    3. Take a power nap. Naps are proven to help sleep at night, if you time them correctly. Taking a short nap in the afternoon can help you fall asleep at night. Just make sure that it’s not longer than one hour or too close to bedtime.
    4. Put away technology. I know that this is such a common tip, but it’s useful. Put away your phone one hour before you go to sleep and instead, read a book or do a coloring page before bed. This will allow your brain to relax and prepare for sleep.

The next time you consider skipping a night’s sleep, remember that it’s a take it or lose it deal. Once sleep is lost, you can’t make make it back up by sleeping more later. And I would recommend that you take it, your future will thank you.

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Lucy Patterson

Lucy Patterson is a junior at Shawnee Mission East and is a second-year staffer on the Harbinger. Lucy is a copy editor, print news section editor and podcast editor. When Lucy is not in room 521, she can often be found in the SME pool with other girl’s swim team members or studying for her IB classes. In her very little free time, Lucy enjoys reading Emily Griffin novels and watching reruns of The Office. Lucy has found a true passion for journalism and can’t wait ... Read Full »

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