The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.

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Sleep Loss at Haven

Grace Haase, '17, Staff Writer

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Too often, high school students are awake late into the night finishing papers, studying for tests, or checking social media. School mornings are greeted with bleary eyes and yawns, causing trouble with concentration and comprehension throughout the day of supposed learning. Walking through the hallways, many students can be seen lugging around a large coffee cup, relying on caffeine to provide enough artificial energy to keep them going through the day. With all of the Dunkin’ Donuts, Starbucks, and Wawa cups scattered across desks at school, these companies ought to be paying Strath Haven for advertising purposes.

Even when homework is not the culprit that forces teens to stay up past more reasonable hours, other electronic distractions keep them from obtaining the proper amount of rest. After a long day of rigorous classes, band, and sports practices, high schoolers deserve some time to relax and catch up with friends, but there is not enough time in a single day to accomplish such feats. Phones constantly buzzing by bedsides do not create an atmosphere suitable for sleeping. Sleep deprivation has become the new norm, and it seems that many do not understand the severe repercussions of attempting to function in such a state that fatigues not only the body, but the mind. It is important that the negative effects of a poor night’s sleep are vocalized, as such a large portion of the student body continues to disregard the value of a few extra hours of rest. Though students are enthusiastic about the idea of pushing our school’s start time back an hour or two, they are not so excited about attempting to build more sleep into their current schedules. The detriments of sleep loss are numerous, startling, and must be addressed in order to stimulate any sort of change.

Dr. Brad Wolgast, a father of two Strath Haven students and a professor at the University of Delaware, was invited to the high school this past month to advise students about the negative effects of poor sleep. When asking the students how many hours of sleep they received the night before, the startling responses ranged from a mere two hours to eight hours, with most students averaging about six. He presented incredible facts about the repercussions of losing sleep. Dr. Wolgast states, “Teens that sleep just one more hour nightly are 65-70% less likely to have a car accident.” He also helped students discover that even doing homework in your bed at night before going to sleep affects your brain, as your brain associates your bed with sleep, and forcing yourself to stay awake to work on homework sends mixed signals. He also presented a slideshow revealing the amount of caffeine in some our favorite drinks. Particularly startling was the extreme amounts found in both Starbucks and Dunkin Donuts coffee at a whopping 400 to 415 mg depending on the size. More surprisingly, when he asked how many students drink coffee regularly or how much caffeine we think we consume in a week, a large number of students raised their hands even at the highest amounts.

When the Panther Press later asked why he thought high school sleep is important Dr. Wolgast said, “High school students are in a particularly bad position because their bodies want them to stay awake later and sleep later into the morning – a biological change that fades in adulthood.”

After Dr. Wolgast’s presentation, it is apparent that Strath Haven students are battling sleep troubles. Senior Martine Leech reveals “on average I’d say I would get about six hours of sleep, but on bad nights, probably about three to four hours,” but for her she says “I’m pretty used to it, though, I function about the same I think. It’s been two years of six hours a night.” As eight and a half hours is optimal for adolescents, the amount of sleep teenagers at our school receive is very poor. However, Dr. Wolgast states, “The students of Strath Haven are now some of the best informed sleepers in Pennsylvania, and I have enjoyed hearing from them since the talk about changes they have made to their sleep.” Hearing about the effects of sleep loss have prompted students to take measures to get a few more hours of sleep a night. Sophomore Abby McElroy, for example, says that she started showering at night in order to sleep better.

On a larger scale, it is extremely necessary that teachers and students begin to work together to dramatically change our school’s sleep statistics, before these levels of sleep begin to affect the health of student. One potential solution would be pushing back the school start time to around eight thirty, allowing both students and teachers an extra hour of sleep in the morning. Dr. Wolgast states, “It is because most high schools have start times before 8 a.m., students suffer academically, emotionally, and physically.” These large scale and small scale solutions to sleep deprivation are the keys to a healthier lifestyle.

Lack of sleep remains an issue among students at Haven, but Dr. Wolgast’s presentation helped to raise awareness of this problem and also provide some potential solutions. Strath Haven students and faculty appreciated the attention that Dr. Wolgast’s talk brought to the topic of sleep loss because of its day to day relevance. Dr. Wolgast states, “I really enjoyed meeting with the students and faculty of Strath Haven to discuss sleep and how undervalued and essential it is.” Hopefully, as the school year continues and stress remains a part of Haven day to day life, students keep in mind the important information and tips that Dr. Wolgast provided through his presentation on sleep this past month.

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The student newspaper of Strath Haven High School. The Panther Press is first and foremost a reflection of the opinions and interests of the student body. For this reason, we do not publish any anonymous or teacher-written submissions, and we do not discriminate against any ideology or political opinion. While we are bound by school policy (and funding), we will not render any article neutral, although individual points may be edited for obscene or inflammatory content. Finally, the articles published in the Panther Press do not necessarily reflect the views of the editors or advisors.
Sleep Loss at Haven