story by Jamie Gilbert-Fitzpatrick, Abby Beauregard and Becca Spilka

The buzzer of the alarm clock echoes around the room as it initiates the start of a new day.  An arm darts out from under the covers, clumsily trying to hit the snooze button.  “Five more minutes,” you think to yourself.  Five soon turns into ten.  Ten turns into twenty and so on.  This is how your mornings may start from late night studying for upcoming final exams.  

“I have experienced sleep deprivation. It’s called being an honors student,” junior Kevin Gagnon said.

Teens need about eight to ten hours of sleep per night according to sleepfoundation.org.  Sleep is vital to health.  It’s as important as the air you breath, food you eat and water you drink. But with exams approaching, many students begin to lack sleep.

“Some reasons I get little sleep are: a heavy load of homework all due on the same day/many tests to study for on the same day, working really late during the week and not prioritizing my time as well as I should be,” senior Alexis Temple said.

In addition to all the homework students receive, they also have to balance the extracurriculars necessary to get into college.

“Homework is a big one. And sometimes yes, I do procrastinate, but other times with soccer, homework and a job, sleep comes last on my todo list and it really isn’t healthy,” senior Hannah Liner said. “I wish teachers understood we have other obligations other than three hours of homework just for their class.”

With Advanced Placement exams beginning May 4, students are studying more and sleeping less.

“During AP tests I do much more studying and go to bed a lot later,” freshman Matthew Herbst said.

Many students follow a similar after-school routine.

“For AP Exams, I usually study for a lot longer than normal and allocate about an hour a day for the classes I need to study for,” Kevin said.

AP Psychology teacher Libby Bryan recommends developing a study plan to avoid cramming the night before.

“I told my kids today to make a plan of how many hours you can devote to each class. [Students should] engage in active study like create flashcards and passive study like videos such as Crash Course,” Bryan said.

In the short term, students with sleep deprivation can suffer from decreased performance and alertness, memory and cognitive impairment and poor quality of life according to webmd.com.

“[When I get little sleep] I feel extremely tired and don’t want to move or do anything and can’t focus at all,” Alexis said.

While getting little sleep has many ill-effects, students have to work through the side effects in order to make the grade.

“I think I’m so used to being sleep deprived that I’m usually okay taking the test,” Kevin said.  “The real issue comes after when I’m so drained that the rest of my day is horrible.”

There’s an easy remedy to the problem: more sleep. However, students often struggle to take this advice to heart while worrying about grades.

“The only advice [for students] I have is to not procrastinate and make sleep a priority,” Kevin said. “It is important even if I don’t follow my own advice sometimes.”