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Raising Awareness of Sleep Deprivation in Educational Institutions - Shams Al-Naffaie

Raising Awareness of Sleep Deprivation in Educational Institutions 

As examination time draws near, students across the globe are preparing for their exams. But while their grades will eventually improve, their physical well-being tends to deteriorate. The majority of students worldwide have been taught by their guardians ever since they were young that their academic pursuits should take precedence over their personal desires. However, this notion of education being the sole priority is misguided and will continue to be passed onto future generations. Students are already mentally exhausted from going to school, often staying up all night to merely complete one assignment, and exam week further disrupts their sleep schedule. While many may perceive grades as an essential factor for a successful future for adolescents, the truth is that they drain their energy and rob them of their precious sleep time.


Benefits of Sleep 

Prioritizing sleep time has numerous advantages that individuals may not recognize. One may believe that their body completely shuts down as soon as they are at rest. However, during this time, their internal organs are actually diligently working throughout the night. During sleep, the body utilizes the time to repair muscles, organs, and cells. So after facing a day filled with work and stress, individuals need to allow their brains and organs to get enough rest to prepare themselves for another productive day. Moreover, sufficient sleep is essential for promoting growth, maintaining heart health, managing weight, reducing the risk of injury, enhancing attention span, and improving memory and learning. 


Why is this an issue? 

In recent years, the ongoing concern of students not receiving adequate sleep has become more severe. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine has emphasized the significance of getting a minimum of 8–10 hours of sleep for optimal functioning. However, research has reported that 87% of students in the United States alone have admitted to getting way less than the recommended eight hours of sleep. The amount of time students spend sleeping continues to decrease, exposing their health to various threats and ultimately negatively impacting their academic performance. Furthermore, students are gradually beginning to lose their sanity as they pull all-nighters longer than they intended to. An example of a case involves Carolyn Walworth, a 17-year-old high school student who experiences a breaking point near midnight. During this time, she is seen sitting and crying for approximately 10 minutes due to the excessive homework workload she is facing (Richter 1). It is evident from the subsequent text that if students persist in neglecting this fundamental human necessity, they will undoubtedly turn insane. Lack of sleep also diminishes the students' productivity, comprehension capabilities, and problem-solving skills, which may have been a struggle for Walworth to maintain at that time. Moreover, the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute has claimed that sleep deficiency leads to a plethora of chronic ailments, including kidney disease, heart disease, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, and stroke. By depriving themselves, adolescents are not only putting their physical well-being at risk but also subjecting themselves to mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety.


How To Solve This Issue? 

Many individuals have been taught that there is a solution to every problem. To address this matter, educational institutions could implement many things, such as reducing the workload assigned to each student daily. By reducing the amount of homework, students will be able to manage their  schedules more effectively. Rather than overwhelming students with a pile of papers, teachers could incorporate more hands-on activities into their lessons. This solution not only alleviates students' stress and allows them to get adequate sleep, but it also improves their creativity and critical thinking skills.


References: 

  1. Richter, Ruthann. “Among Teens, Sleep Deprivation an Epidemic.” Stanford Medicine News Center

2. Stanford Medicine, 8 Oct. 2015, med.stanford.edu. Accessed 1 Apr. 2024. Sleep and health (2023) Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Available at: https://www.cdc.gov/healthyschools/sleep. Accessed: 07 April 2024.

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