From a Teen’s Perspective: The case for more sleep

by Dylan Lanier on August 28, 2023

I would like to think that I’m generally pretty healthy. I exercise, I eat a balanced diet, and I spend lots of time outdoors. However, my sleep schedule could certainly use some work.

According to my biology teacher, teenagers need to get at least nine hours of sleep every night. I can’t speak for everyone, but that seems impossible to achieve. School, extracurriculars, and homework can often keep us up past midnight. Add in time to hang out with friends? Forget it!

I know that making time for sleep is hard and often seems unimportant compared to the not-so-organized chaos of everyday life. But even though spending nine full hours in Snoozeville might sound unreasonable, here’s my case for making sure you get at least seven or eight hours of sleep each night.

1. Put the Phone Down: I am the first to admit that my phone is the root of almost all of my distractions. It seems like every notification sends me down a 15-minute rathole of TikTok, Instagram, Snapchat and all the other apps specifically designed to lock my attention. I feel like if I locked my phone in a box I could complete all of my work 50% faster. I know that reworking your sleep schedule might seem like it requires major life adjustments, but it might just mean cutting out that unnecessary screen time.

2. Look Good, Feel Good: This one’s pretty self-explanatory. The more sleep you get, the more energy you’ll have during the day. It might feel like you have more energy with less sleep, but that’s just your brain going into overdrive; lasting energy requires consistent and adequate rest. We all know that feeling of inescapable fatigue, like there’s weights hanging off your eyelids and an invisible string doing its best to hold you upright when all you want to do is nod off. Not only are you uncomfortable and unhappy in this condition, but you are also less engaged, less productive, and more irritable. Do the you of tomorrow a favor by getting some sleep. Still not convinced of the benefits of sleep? Here’s an article about all the ways it can make you look healthier, too.

3. Illuminate Your Thinking Cap: Great news, tired teens, turns out sleeping can be as important as studying! Also courtesy of my biology teacher, the brain uses sleep as a time to sort through information you received that day and decide what’s worth keeping. The more you sleep, the more time your brain has to undergo this process. Cutting it short can affect your memory, so it looks like there is such a thing as too much studying.

4. The Power of Routine: Our bodies are meant to be in balance and sleep is no exception. It can be turned into a calming and grounding ritual, almost like a meditation. By following a habitual bedtime practice, you allow your mind and body to develop a concrete sleep schedule. Once you develop a pattern (hopefully one that matches your circadian rhythm), sleep can become a constant in your life, something to cherish and rely upon.

When you give yourself more sleep, you communicate to your body that it is being taken care of. It’s rare we get the opportunity to fully attend to ourselves, so let sleep be an area of your life that you get to manage and consciously improve your mental and physical well-being.

It’s extremely difficult to walk the tightrope between a busy life and sufficient rest. However, with proper focus and yes, a positive attitude, it is possible to commit to both your daily activities and nightly recovery.

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Dylan Lanier is a senior at Menlo-Atherton High School

Stock photo of sleeping teen by

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