Sleepless in Seaholm
Phoebe Anstett is sick. Cough, no voice, runny nose kind of sick.
On any given school day, she wakes up at 5 AM for swim practice, goes to school, then swims for another two and a half hours. She then comes home for half an hour, eats a quick dinner, then departs to dance lessons, which last until 9:15.
Only when she comes home does she start her homework.
“I’ve been doing all my activities for so long I can’t imagine cutting one out of my schedule,” Anstett says. “I can’t quit.”
Anstett typically gets five hours of sleep a night, and her body is starting to feel the toll.
“I’m exhausted all the time,” Anstett said.
Anstett isn’t alone.
Junior Caroline Stacey’s busy schedule keeps her on her feet and out of bed.
Stacey is a member of Instant Replay Volleyball Club of Metro Detroit, a club which trains for three and a half hours a day 3-4 times a week. She also works out on her off days and has a tournament, typically outside of the state, every weekend. Outside of athletics, she’s a regular babysitter and frequently attends architecture workshops in Detroit. She finds herself sleeping about six hours a night.
“This year I’ve definitely been challenged [finding time to sleep and do homework] with my course load associated with junior year,” Stacey said.
Beside tournaments, Stacey has also been doing out of state college visits on weekends, relatively frequently.
“Because I’ve been traveling so much, I usually do [homework] on airplanes or in airports on the weekend,” Stacey said.
According to a Highlander survey, 6:30 A.M. is the average wakeup time for a Seaholm student on a normal schedule day. Along with after school games and extensive practices, most students involved in extracurricular activities stay at school upwards of 8 hours a day, with an average bedtime is 11 P.M.
According to West Bloomfield-based pediatrician Evandro Silveira, the pressure students put on themselves to succeed reflects on sleep schedules, which in turn can affect brain structure.
“There are two phases of sleep, REM and non-REM,” Silveira said. “Individuals need to spend a certain time in both phases to build connections in the brain.”
According to the National Sleep Foundation [NSF], more than 50% of teenagers nationally are exhausted during the day. Only 20% report an adequate amount of sleep.
“Generally speaking, a teenager between 12 and 20 should be getting at least around eight to 10 hours of sleep a night,” Silveira said.
Depriving the body of the sleep it needs can have devastating effects over time.
“There’s a lot of immune responses to the body which protect you against infections,” Silveira said. “If you’re not rested you won’t have them when you need them.”
According to the NSF, a deprivation of sleep can be linked to motor vehicle accidents and a greater likelihood of obesity. Lack of sleep is also linked with poor performance in school and sports, and has been known to affect both short term and long term memory.
Because the body’s sleep cycle is mainly based on light, constant exposure to television, computer, and phone screens can keep your body awake long after bedtime.
However, students won’t change their habits knowing the risks.
“I chose my schedule and extracurriculars even though I knew it was going to be hard,” Stacey said. “I feel like it’s all worth it just to keep me busy and diverse.”