Technology can shift student sleep schedules

April 10, 2019

Across the nation, schools are faced with a complex dilemma involving sleep-deprived students. In the stressful high school environment, students are often overloaded with assignments and activities outside of class, leading to them having to stay up to ludicrous hours to get everything done. This often results in missing out on several hours of valuable time to rest and recharge after students have returned home in the evening. Schools are tasked with making a difficult choice: is it worth it to decrease student after-school workload for the benefits of increased awareness and concentration that come with a healthy amount of sleep?

Mallika Srinivas

Edina High School school nurse Gretchen Gosh thinks that late night screentime is a major factor playing into a sleepless student body, as it interrupts the brain’s normal daily cycle of alertness and drowsiness, known as the circadian rhythm, and takes away time in the morning and afternoon in which students are able to focus and concentrate. She says that the victims of this effect of technology include not only students but teachers and other adults as well.

“I’d say we have at least one student every day [in the health office] that comes in and just requests a place to sleep. They may not necessarily be feeling sick, but they usually are exhibiting effects of sleep deprivation like fatigue and a loss of balance,” Gosh said.

Gosh insists that this is a solvable problem, and that students can stick to a more rigid schedule around after-school activities and evening routines in order to keep a consistent circadian rhythm for the body to follow. She suggests students make an effort to get off of technology at least one hour before bedtime so that the body has time to adjust and settle into its normal circadian rhythm.

“The importance of getting a good night’s rest is something students don’t pay enough attention to. There’s a lot of research and studies about sleep deprivation and how it can affect students in school, and that a lack of a good sleeping schedule can negatively impact academic success for all ages,” Gosh said.

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