Isabel Schneck, ’15
At BHSEC, “every day is stressful, to be honest,” said Y1 Angelique Fenton. Students find themselves overwhelmed by homework, tests, papers, and extracurricular activities. Many students find that their sleep suffers due to such busy and demanding schedules. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need approximately 9¼ hours of sleep each night. Do BHSEC students get that amount of sleep? Barely—of 45 BHSEC students polled, 15 students said they get 7-8 hours a night and 12 said 5-6 hours. “I don’t really have any coping mechanisms,” said Y2 Alea Alexis, “I just generally don’t have a good sleep pattern at this point.” Stress has an obvious impact on the sleep patterns of BHSEC students, but how can this problem be further understood and resolved?
For freshman especially, a significant obstacle tends to be the pressure to finish an exorbitant amount of work in limited time. “Since starting Bard, I haven’t really had any free time to do anything,” says 9th grader Helaina Ferraioli. Due in a large part to her outside commitments (running club and the basketball team), “I’ve been losing a lot of sleep,” she notes. Extracurricular activities, in addition to long commutes and the dreadful habit of procrastination, take up valuable time that students need to complete their assignments. Although for some freshmen sleep arrives sooner—freshman Mariana Lucero manages to get nine hours!—Alea believes that the lack of sleep is “getting worse and worse” with each year.
To counter such overwhelming schedules, some students have gone to extremes. For example, Y1 Cindy Prado has developed a strategy for tackling her workload, which we’ll now call The Prado Method. After an hour and a half commute home, she takes on her smaller assignments, working relentlessly until 9:00PM. At 9:00PM she deems herself unable to function and goes to sleep, but wakes up around 4:00AM and finishes her homework by 6:30AM. “The Method works for me because in the morning it’s silent in my house and no one can distract me,” she says. “The goal is basically to isolate myself from the world and focus on my work.”
Meanwhile, other students have given up on sleep altogether. Alea Alexis has a friend who pulled two all-nighters in a row. Alea has done the same, but would not recommend that strategy because “it’s not conducive to being successful at anything in life.” Indeed, parents constantly tell students that they must go to bed early to succeed. But if sleep is more important than completing assignments, how should BHSEC students manage their workload? Angelique Fenton has a possible solution. When she’s having a particularly demanding week, especially during final exams, she’ll “cut off completely” for a few days at a time, using every free period and spending no extra time seeing her friends. BHSEC students should handle their workload by maximizing their ability to work during the daylight hours, sacrificing a few days every once in a while to work alone, and taking a break for sleep when their brains can no longer function.