Friday, June 26, 2009

On Sleeping Late

I love going to bed late. Unfortunately, I hate waking up late. Therefore, I am perfectly suited to a job as a CEO of a very small startup company, Barack Obama, or a sanitation worker (read: garbageman) who also works the late shift as a bartender.

My aversion to awakening when the sun is already halfway across the sky may not be shared by many of my fellow high school students, who may prefer to raise their head from a pillow just before dinnertime or, indeed, not at all.

Waking up late and feeling good about it requires a confidence that nothing worthwhile ever goes on while you’re not conscious and able to participate. Be it an important email you’re expecting, your family’s spontaneous decision to go to Six Flags without you, or even just breakfast, there is always the anxiety of missing something by sleeping in.

On the other hand, sleeping in is the main attraction of summer, and, based on a voluntary poll, most of my peers are either able to overcome the fear of missing some vital morning event or just don’t really care what happens while they’re unconscious.

In summer, on average, Paly students hit the sack at 10:54pm. During the school year, the average bedtime is 11:24pm. This serves to dispel the myth that, when given the chance, teenagers stay up until all hours of the night behaving dangerously. (Well, I can’t vouch for that last part, but still.)

Students wake up around 9:30am in the summer but 6:48am during the year. This means that the majority of the discrepancy between total hours of sleep in summer and during the year is based upon wake-up time, not bedtime.

Given freedom, the majority of students sampled would go to sleep earlier than they do during school and wake up later. Later start times for school would not, contrary to popular opinion, encourage late night parties, or somehow let the kids know that the administration is “giving in” to their reckless teenage lifestyle. We wouldn’t party; we’d sleep.

During the year, the average Paly student gets seven hours of sleep. During the summer, he or she gets ELEVEN.

And it helps, too. “I can feel myself being way less tired in the morning,” said a junior girl. A sophomore confirmed, “It feels weird because during the school year I'm always having to keep myself awake during class and it distracts me, but now [in summer] I don't feel tired and everything I do feels so focused.”

Some Paly students also share my own affinity for waking early. “I wish I could sleep until noon but then I feel like I wasted my day,” said a junior girl. A junior boy said “I really like waking early because nobody is awake, it's dark, and I can get things done.”

The National Institute of Health says teenagers need nine or more hours of sleep. So do like the nice Surgeon General tells you and just sit back, relax, and take a nap.