You come to school, and notice three or four students with their heads down on their desks … and it’s only the first block! 

Recent student surveys suggest that this is not because they are disengaged with the class, but instead because of their lack of sleep. According to some teachers, there seems to be an epidemic of AISB Secondary students being found sleeping during class, but why is that? 

In this feature, you will learn why students are struggling with their sleep and what habits students can partake in to improve their quality of sleep.

Less Than a Quarter Students Get Sleep They Need

Students on the amount of sleep they get on school nights. (Survey responses from grades 6-12)

The Bite sent out a survey to AISB students from grades 6 through 12, and received 55 responses. Only 23.6% of the respondents get eight or more hours of sleep on average during school days, with 65.5% getting six to seven hours, and finally 10.9% percentage of them get 3 to 5 hours. When the average amount of sleep teenagers require is 8-10 hours, this data is very concerning.

Though, on the weekends the opposite almost seems to be the case with 74.5% of students getting eight or more hours of sleep.

One reason for this lack of sleep is due to both the amount of schoolwork to do at home and procrastination, according to the survey.

Grade 12 student Carla A. (Photo by Gigi D.)

“Personally I used to be a big procrastinator in younger grades,” admits grade 12 student Carla A., who says she once had an essay due for grade 9 English and stayed up until 4 AM to finish it.

 “When I got to the DP I had the biggest wake-up call,” Carla says. “I knew I couldn’t keep procrastinating like this or else I was going to lose so many hours of sleep and my mental sanity. It became much more important for me to actually sleep.”

Carla here is not alone; many students in AISB and around the world struggle with sleep due to procrastinating on assignments and staying up late to complete them.

For example grade 11 student Devon M. cites a similar issue preventing him from getting sleep: “Having to do homework before sleep and then waking up early in the morning.”

“Staying on my phone” is another common theme on the Bite survey that students believe prevents them from getting more restful sleep.

The large reason students stay on their phone is the feeling of pleasure they get that goes in the brain’s reward system. This is a chemical function called dopamine which your brain produces a lot through certain apps that supercharge the dopamine hits: TikTok, Instagram, and so on.

What Do Experts Suggest for Better Sleep?

According to the Healthy Schools, having a consistent bedtime during school days and weekends where students go to sleep at the same time and wake up at the same time everyday has shown a positive effect on students’ sleep. 

Further, limiting blue light exposure which stops the production of melatonin (hormone for sleep) and technology use at the evening and other certain times of the day and also where they can use this technology (for example “not in their bed”) has shown to be another healthy habit to help students be able to fall asleep. 

Exercising regularly can also help one to fall asleep quickly and stay asleep. Though being mindful when you do exercise is also important, as exercising close to your bedtime (around 1 hour before) can have the opposite effect and can make it hard to fall asleep.

Managing the time you do schoolwork properly can also help you from staying up late. Breaking down your work and projects into certain times of the day can be a tool to help you from staying up.

Getting quality sleep should not be a luxury but a thing everyone gets. By having a consistent bedtime, limiting exposure to devices, exercising regularly, and managing your time as best as possible, you will for sure improve your quality of sleep but also how you feel and work in school.

You won’t doze and miss something important, like that one friend who once slept through his timed, in-class essay summative!