Sleep deprivation; result of procrastination or too much work?


Time management, prioritizing and over-scheduling – these are the three words that pop into mind when students complain about their overwhelming workload and the sleep they have lost due to it.  Can students do a better job of managing their time and prioritizing, or is too much expected of them?

In a recent discussion with Mr. Gallagher, IHS Athletic Director, he said, “procrastination is definitely the biggest speed bump that athletes run into.”

Mr. Gallagher contends that time management is the toughest challenge for high school students because they tend to procrastinate. We tend to put things off until the last minute and then try to say that we did not have enough time, or there was too much expected of us.

It is not just athletes who have a problem with time management; it is musicians, artists and drama students as well. All engaged students have practices or rehearsals that go late into the evening, and many put their homework off until 8:00 or 9:00 at night. Could students get their academic work done earlier in the day and thereby reduce their loss of sleep?

Related to time management and procrastination are students’ prioritization skills. With the distractions of social media and the desire to be competitive in sports and other activities, kids tend to forget that school comes first. Many kids waste time on Twitter and other social media. Others may feel that they need to watch game film to get ahead in their sport, or they may just prefer watching game film rather than doing schoolwork and use it as a justification to procrastinate.

The other possible reason that kids may not get enough sleep is that they are over-scheduled. Teenagers think they can do it all, and they tend to learn the hard way that they cannot. They have practice, then meetings or clubs, and then homework. This causes kids to go to bed at very late hours of the night, or in the worst cases, early mornings.

Perhaps these students really do have too much on their plates. As many people know, stress is a very serious challenge and even causes some people to hurt themselves. Teenagers have a lot of pressure put on them at such an immature state in their lives. They are expected to do well in school, sports, apply to college, take all types of tests, do community service and get involved with their school. To many kids, it seems like a job more than it is school. People may say that teenagers choose to put too much on their plates, but teachers and parents encourage this because colleges look for this level of involvement.

It is not easy to get the minimum 8 hours of sleep a teenager needs every night because of how much they have to do. Natasha Vasiliades is a junior at IHS. She is taking all honors and AP classes and has soccer after school everyday. When asked about whether she gets enough sleep, she said, “It is impossible for me to get 8 hours of sleep because of all the homework I have to do after soccer practice.”

She also brought up another contributing factor, which is that kids also have responsibilities at home that take up a lot of time. Whether it is chores or helping your mom or dad, there is always something that needs to be done at home. This is definitely something teachers do not think about when they are assigning homework.

Procrastination and poor time management both contribute to teenagers’ lack of sleep, but perhaps the expectations on kids both in and out of school are too high and also contribute to the lack of sleep. Whatever the reasons, not getting enough sleep is a very serious problem. The lack of sleep can lead to a variety of health issues, such as susceptibility to illness and even depression. It is important that students, teachers, and parents find common ground on this issue to help prevent the negative effects of not getting enough sleep.