It’s 3 AM. Why Are You Reading This At 3 AM?

Sheindl Berger ‘20

Lack of sleep can cause acne, weight gain, mental illness, irritability, lack of focus, lapse in academic or physical performance, chronic insomnia, memory loss, decline in capability, car crashes, etc. Existing illnesses can be exacerbated by not getting enough rest. In addition, losing sleep for one night can start a cycle of going to bed too late and waking up too late. This is all aside from the discomfort of exhaustion and the inconvenience of drowsiness.

According to a study done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 72.7% of high schoolers in the United States get fewer than eight hours of sleep on school nights. Eight hours is the minimum amount of sleep that is deemed healthy for teenagers, and the ideal range is 8-10 hours.

Now that I have your attention, let’s talk about your sleep. We are often lectured about sleeping for eight hours every night, not going on electronics before bed, and keeping a regular sleep schedule. Our response to that is, “But I’m a high school student! I have a million hours of homework to do every night. There just isn’t enough time!” This is true. There is often not enough time to get eight hours of sleep and finish all of our homework while we are actually at home. Clearly, something has to be given up. Something has to take priority.

“Well, it’s obvious,” you say. “Sleep is way more important than school work.” At least, I hope that is what you said. Your health is certainly much more important to me than your grades are.

It is very hard to stop in the middle of doing work and go to bed instead. Sleep feels like a waste of time that could be spent productively. But rest is vital to good health and survival. After exercising, you let yourself wind down because you understand that you have done enough to make a difference, but not more than your body can handle. Last I checked, the brain is a body part. It needs exercise, it wants to push itself and improve, but it also has a limit as to what it can do. Just as it is not a good idea to stay standing for eighteen hours straight, staying awake for that long is detrimental to good health.

Yes, I am actually asking you to not finish your homework. I am asking you to give up points on your grade, to go to your teacher and awkwardly ask for an extension. If you were responsible about work, and did not procrastinate, and did everything you reasonably could have but still ended up having to stop in order to sleep, that is a reflection on the amount of work given, not a reflection on you. It does not matter what is on your to do list; go to bed when staying up any longer would mean you would not get enough sleep. That is that, no exceptions. There is nothing else to consider.

I believe that it is vital to stop accepting as fact that it is necessary to give up health for school. Health means getting enough exercise, going outside, doing things you enjoy, and getting eight hours of sleep every night. I personally have chronic insomnia, and let me tell you, it tangibly changed my life when I finally found something that helps. Sleep is so, so important, and so I ask you to help make a change, and not give up your health for a grade.


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