Ultimate teenage challenge: unplugging, sleeping


Kaylee Aguilar and Zi Lu

A good night’s rest can affect a person’s mood and energy levels throughout the day, but it can be difficult for high school students to get enough sleep. The Sidekick daily news/assignment editor Karen Lu takes on a challenge to get at least eight hours of sleep for a week.

Karen Lu, Daily News/Assignment Editor

The clock strikes 1 a.m.; I’m hunched over my laptop, furiously typing to finish my essay or lazily watching the 30th David Dobrik vlog of the night. 

Eight hours of sleep have been perpetuated as ideal for a good night’s rest and productive following morning. However, since the beginning of high school, this number has eluded me, with five to seven hours being the norm and less than four if I was especially unlucky.

“Getting enough sleep is just like resetting your computer,” Coppell High School AP Psychology teacher Kristia Leyendecker said. “If you don’t shut your computer down, it keeps open all the tabs. It starts to get tired; it starts to not respond nearly as quickly. Your body is the exact same way. You need to recharge, rejuvenate. It’s just important for your overall well-being that your body comes to this total state of relaxation.” 

I wish I could say my sleep deprivation could be attributed to my dedication to finishing mass amounts of work. But more often than not, it’s simply because the allure of sending another Snapchat, watching another YouTube video or playing another GamePigeon is stronger than going to bed and feeling well-rested the next morning. 

“Shutting off technology is the ultimate practice of self-discipline and delayed gratification,” Leyendecker said. “It’s about controlling your technology versus letting your technology control you.”

In an effort to combat this, I made a New Year’s resolution to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, but like so many others, this resolution only made it as far as a week into the new year. I challenged myself to get a minimum of eight hours of sleep every night for a school week (Sunday night to Friday morning), with the added feature of unplugging from my laptop by 9:30 p.m. and my phone by 10 p.m. 

Starting off the week, I was skeptical I would be able to successfully complete this challenge. 9:30 p.m. is the time I usually start my homework, and shutting off my phone by 10 p.m. felt like a highly ambitious goal.

However, I’m glad to say I was successful throughout my entire week in all aspects of the challenge (save for a few sneaky Apple Watch messages). I either returned to the old-school pen and paper for studying or I just completely stopped studying by 9:30 p.m. and used the extra time for things I usually don’t have time for, like cooking dinner, rereading a favorite book or watching the Super Bowl. 

I can’t say this week-long challenge resulted in me becoming the Energizer Bunny, but this did end up being one of the most productive weeks I’ve ever had with the added bonus of me not feeling guilty for pointlessly not sleeping. Even though the week ended, I will still strive to not only get eight hours of sleep nightly, but also finish all my homework well before midnight.

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