Opinion Piece: My Friend, A Hero: High School Student Has a Good Night
Rumor has it that sophomore Paige Mayer has ostensibly fulfilled the eight-hour sleep requirement as per the American Sleep Association. Having achieved what was once deemed impossible, Paige is now a role model for North Shore students of all grades, as well as the student body’s latest envy.
“It was not as hard as everyone says it is,” she reported on the day following this schoolwide phenomenon. “I just didn’t have that much to do that night, and then I did it without even realizing. Believe me; I am as shocked as the rest of you.”
Despite her extraordinary accomplishment, Paige wants to underscore that she does not let a good night’s sleep interfere with her school responsibilities. “I just try to get everything done and stay organized so I can get my beauty sleep,” was Paige’s response when asked how she manages juggling a busy schedule, given the number of hours required to function. “I typically get home at around six, and then I rush to eat dinner. I guess completing homework takes about five or six hours a night. But, last night was a perfect storm: I had just four hours of homework, only three tests and an essay the next day, and the kid I was supposed to be tutoring canceled! But, as much as I would love it, I don’t see this happening to me again.”
Often, the mention of our ever-increasing insomnia is followed by a personal vow for earlier bedtimes and a long night’s sleep (only to be broken the next night). Although, this mentality may be indicative of the sleep problem. Rather than allowing ourselves to get more rest, the strict eight-hour regimen bolsters a misleading conception of how we should approach sleep. The time spent tossing and turning may somewhat stem from this common misconception; neither our bodies nor our brains are built for roughly one-third of life spent in bed.
The Harvard Medical School Professor, Robert Stickgold, proposes that sleep (particularly short naps) allocates time for our brain to filter new information, deciding what to keep and information to toss. This directly correlates to dreams with outlandish plots and characters, resulting from the brain’s attempt to link newly acquired knowledge and knowledge stored in our long-term memory. Rapid eye movement sleep (eyelids tend to flutter during this sleep stage) is the only phase of sleep in which the brain is at a maximum rate of functioning, allowing for the greatest odds to formulate new ideas and hone freshly acquired skills. Once awake, the mind was recorded to have a more remarkable ability to generate connections lost in a jumble of information.
There is growing support for altered sleep schedules and how they may be in our collective interest. Acknowledging this notion’s credibility has rendered a high workplace tolerance for napping and other alternate daily schedules. For instance, Google employees are offered designated nap-times at work, adhering to the belief that it increases productivity. Researchers have observed that long-haul pilots who sleep on flights perform better when maneuvering the aircraft through the descent and landing.
NSHAHS students can definitely profit from this strategic method of napping. Just imagine how refreshed and energized we would feel, finally ready to seize the day! Disentangling ourselves from a needlessly rigid and quite outdated idea of what constitutes a good night’s sleep may finally put us and this issue to rest.