As I type this at 1 AM, all I can think about is how comfy my bed looks, and how nice it would’ve been to get in bed at a decent hour. It seems relatively simple in concept, but I can somehow never pull it off.
High school students are notorious for going to bed late. In fact, a recent poll on the Mouth of the River Instagram asked viewers if they have good sleep habits, and 85% out of 40 responses said no. This number wasn’t a huge surprise, but I was curious about the 15% that said yes. How do they do it? I wanted to know what these students were doing to maintain consistent sleep.
I also wanted to know why sleep is so important, so I asked a professional. Kimberly Wolph, one of the school nurses, told me that sleep can help with “hormonal regulation, it’ll certainly help with mood, irritability, generalized better health as a whole, […] and less chance of becoming sick.”
For as long as I can remember, I’ve never had a consistent bedtime and have always had terrible sleep habits. I’ve recently been noticing how getting little sleep affects my day and have been wondering what I can do to improve.
I’m a very busy person, and I’m always doing something after school, so I don’t usually get home until later, which leaves little time for homework before bed. I wanted to hear how other students manage their time, and Alessandro Garofalo (‘24) had some good advice. “One of the things that I’ve done that’s really helped is just developing a routine day to day that allowed me to get everything done.”
Sure, developing a routine sounds easy, but the part I’ve always struggled with is beginning one. Cayden Giordani (‘24), found a great trick. “I found that setting alarms and reminders helped me get started with the schedule. Once I was in that [schedule], it was pretty easy to stay with.”
Homework is usually the task that pushes into my sleep time. When I get home, usually around five, I just want to sit on the couch and do nothing for an hour. The problem is, an hour becomes two, and before I know it it’s ten o’clock. Maryellen Moore (‘24), has figured out the trick to getting homework done before bed. “I never do homework at night. I get it done either right when I get home from school, I do it at school, or before dinner. Usually, I try not to do homework past nine.”
Giordani, who has a busy after school schedule because of sports, has his own method to get homework done before bed. “I try after school, after a little bit of a break, to get as much [homework] done. If I can’t get it all done that evening, […] I’ll get the most important stuff done to where I can do stuff in the morning or during a flex.”
The most important thing I’ve noticed that everyone with good sleep habits have, like Atreyu Kleczek (‘25), is good time management. “Since I take the bus, I usually do my homework on the bus.”
I also found that everyone with good sleep habits gets their homework done in the flex blocks during the school day, so that they don’t have to after school. That may seem obvious, but it’s not as easy as it sounds to someone who is easily distracted. I’ve found what works best is finding a quiet room to get work done and listening to relaxing music.
If you’re easily distracted, it might also be hard to turn off your phone at night. Every piece of sleep advice I’ve seen online has said the same thing: “turn your phone off.” I’ve never had trouble staying off my phone before bed, but does getting off your phone at night really affect your sleep schedule? Garofalo said “the most important thing I think everyone needs to do is turn off their phone, put it on do not disturb, and don’t pick it up again.”
“Put your phone away at a decent time, because once your phone’s away then there’s a million less distractions,” adds Moore.
It might be hard for some people to put it away, but Garofalo had a great suggestion for once you’re off your phone. “Putting it somewhere you won’t be able to reach it without having to get out of bed is going to be really helpful because who wants to [stumble] out of bed to get their phone?”
Going to sleep at a good time is one thing, but how can I actually get good quality sleep? Although I have an atrocious sleep schedule, I usually have decent quality sleep. I’ve found that meditating before bed can help me fall asleep faster, and I usually wake up feeling more refreshed than if I hadn’t meditated.
After talking to Wolph, I understood that meditation helps because before bed you should be “preparing your mind for calmness. You can’t think about really stressful stuff, because you’re gonna go to bed and your mind is going to be all wound up thinking about that scenario.”
Falling asleep can be a struggle, and while I’ve found meditation helps me, Garofalo has a few methods of his own. “When I was younger, I really struggled to fall asleep, […] so what I would do is read, which was definitely helpful. Also, it sounds really silly, but facing a wall and putting your legs up against the wall and laying back will actually help your body get into a sleepier state.”
One way to improve sleep quality is going to bed and waking up at the same time every day. “If you have a free period in the morning, even though you could sleep in […] I would suggest getting up at the same time that you would any other day, because waking up at different times every other day, even if it’s just an hour difference, it makes a big different to your sleep schedule,” says Moore.
Since talking to these students and listening to their advice, I’ve noticed that the biggest step to a healthy sleep schedule is self-control. “Turning your phone off, not picking it up for the rest of the night, and setting a time for that every night will really help discipline you into going to bed, and discipline is the real factor when it comes to getting good consistent sleep,” says Garofalo.