It’s 6 a.m., time for Eliza Welsh, a junior at Green Valley High School, to rub the sleep from her eyes and begin her hectic school day.
And yet she’s pressing the snooze button on her alarm clock for the third time.
One might assume that she’s merely savoring the last few minutes of a good night’s rest.
But she just closed her eyes a few hours ago.
"I’m so tired when I get home from school that I can’t help but take a nap," she says. "By the time I wake up, I have to start my homework and it’s already late. Sometimes I don’t get done with everything until one in the morning, and then it just starts over again the next day."
Heavy homework loads are not the only cause of students’ struggles to remain cognizant. Distractions such as texting, the Internet and video games also are sapping the energy from a weary generation of technology-consumed teens.
"I promise myself that I will go to bed at a decent time, but I always end up staying really late on Facebook," says Ericka Hulbert, a senior at Coronado High School. "Even after I get off the computer, I usually end up texting until I fall asleep. Sometimes I wish there weren’t so many things to keep me preoccupied."
Immersed in an unseemly sleep schedule, students are left to catch up on their rest elsewhere.
Typically occupying 30 hours of a student’s week, school often becomes the sanctuary in which teenagers catch a few winks. The test they were up all night studying for has arrived, and they aren’t even awake to apply all the knowledge they crammed into their tired brains.
Viviana DeArmas, an English teacher at Coronado, is well aware of this.
When a student nods off in her class, DeArmas does what she can to help him or her.
"Once I see a student sleeping, I make sure they come in after class and make up what they missed," she says. "If it happens often, I make sure that the student is OK. I may call home and see what is going on to cause the individual to be so tired."
According to Dr. Elaine Pingol of the Family Wellness Clinic in Henderson, DeArmas has reason to be concerned.
Pingol says that sleep deprivation is a serious problem that’s plaguing many teenagers today.
"Ideally, people should receive eight or nine hours of sleep a night," she says. "However, many of my teenage patients stay up until 12 a.m. or so finishing their schoolwork and what not. This leaves them with only five or six hours of sleep, which can have negative effects on the body."
She adds that teens who did not get an adequate amount of rest were commonly faced with poor concentration, a bad temperament, feeling hot and thirsty, and having an increased heart rate.
"If you can spare a small amount of your nighttime activities and go to bed even 15 minutes earlier each night," Pingol advises, "you can train your body to resume a more regular sleep schedule that will be extremely beneficial to your health and well-being."R-Jeneration