Desperately seeking sleep

I can still vividly remember the battle of going to bed every single night as a young child.

At 7:30 p.m., the anxiety would start creeping up on me as the clock ticked toward the 8 p.m. bedtime.

I would find things to do and make excuses to be able to stay up just a little bit later on those second grade school nights after my one sheet of math homework had long been completed and I was able to knock out some chapters of my Junie B. Jones novels.

So, after tackling this hefty load of assignments, I was able to take a shower and maybe even catch a few minutes of American Idol until that fateful minute when the clock struck 8:30, when I would be faced with the dreadful walk up the stairs to bed.

As a child, all I wanted to do was stay awake. But now, as a high school junior faced with the daily five hours of homework, two hours of field hockey and eight hours spent racing through the Convent of the Sacred Heart Upper School hallways, all I want to do is get some sleep.

Oh, the irony.

Although school has just started, I feel as if I have been braving an academic tsunami forever. I have already had two AP biology tests, an AP U.S. History test, precalculus tests, French quizzes, English assignments, plus some PSAT preparation to add a burst of flavor to this already enticing concoction. And this is only the beginning.

Teenagers in Greenwich are required to balance all of this schoolwork, athletics, social life, and family bonding. When are we supposed to be able to make time for sleep?

We students are required to be attentive during class.

This, I will admit, has become more and more of a struggle for me as my sleep time decreases. I try to prop my eyes open and pinch myself in an effort to stay focused.

Unfortunately, this wake-up technique does not always result in a sudden mental and physical rejuvenation, but rather a perplexed look from my concerned teacher.

The lack of rest also affects our moods, routines, bodies, and appearances. The National Sleep Foundation states that on average, teenagers should sleep for nine hours each night.

This means that I would have to go to bed at 9:15 every single night in order to feel fresh and ready at 6:30 a.m.

This is now my greatest fantasy.

Research has concluded that without proper rest, consumption of unhealthy fried and sugary foods becomes more common.

Many teens rely on immense caffeine amounts to try and wake them in the morning, which can result in high blood pressure and dehydration. Lack of sleep results in unhealthy eating habits, sleep-related diseases, acne, and the dysfunction of our biological clock.

We try to sleep more on the weekends in attempts to “catch up” on our much-needed rest. Unfortunately, this irregular sleep routine can affect the quality of sleep and cause an unhealthy change in our biological clocks.

In biology this year, I learned about the concept of a fitness trade-off in which one organism will use more energy for one aspect of its life, such as being able to run faster, and use less for personal maintenance. Applying that lesson to my life, it seems I traded my sleep and personal grooming for schoolwork, which explains why my hair is always in a strung-out beehive on the top of my head.

Of course, I only know this scientific fact from studying at midnight and cutting into my nine required sleep hours. Tonight, I will drift off (hopefully), and reminisce about my second grade days of 30-minute homework routines and the glorious 8:30 lights out.


Sarah Jackmauh is a junior at Convent of the Sacred Heart.

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