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Burned out

Kayla Curry

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   Exhaustion, stress, and in some cases, depression prove to be closely linked to high school students through recent studies such as NYU, and the American Psychological Association. To put in perspective the widespread effects of student exhaustion and stress, the students at Southside experience the challenge of balancing work and school.

  “Students must make some difficult choices when selecting classes and determining which activities are best for them… To avoid feeling overwhelmed, find a balance, be realistic about abilities and energy levels, review state and national test scores and score reports related to interests and skills when making academic decisions. There is a big difference in data and desire; however, both are important but to disregard lack of preparation or disregard of exceptional abilities for something ‘easy’ will likely lead to frustrations. Considerations of management of stress and time must also be included in these decisions as well,” counselor Savannah Smith said.

According to the Educational Research Newsletter, seventy five percent of U.S. seniors reported working at least part time during their senior year, and in NYU’s study, they discovered that nearly half of the students in the group studied reported having around three hours of homework leaving little time for much else due to the school day lasting roughly seven to eight hours.

     “Balancing school and work has definitely been a challenge. I have had to learn to better manage my time and prepare ahead because after a full day at school and then five hours of work, there isn’t much time for homework. While the stress has increased and amount of sleep has decreased, I now know what it’s like for adults who go to college and work full-time jobs,” senior Daniela Hernandez said.

  Although schools offer many ways to assist students in managing all of their responsibilities, some high school students feel pressured under the expectation of taking initiative and making decisions.

 “Stress can make me feel unmotivated to do work because of how tired I am,” senior Emily Bautista said.

  Due to the mounting stress and responsibility placed on high school students, sleep deprivation poses as one of the biggest threats to student health and academic performance. The Nationwide Children’s Hospital discovered that adolescents between thirteen and eighteen need at least nine to nine and a half hours of sleep, but on average, those in this age range only sleep seven to seven and a half hours.

  “We all need sufficient quality sleep to allow our brains to do necessary maintenance functions that affect our cognitive and emotional functioning when we are awake.  Research shows that adolescents are more vulnerable than adults to sleep deprivation. Sleep deprivation impairs our cognitive and emotional processing.  That is, our ‘thinking’ and ‘feeling’ selves are significantly compromised when we don’t get enough quality sleep,” psychologist at Clinical Psychology of Fort Smith Dr. Phil Barling said.

  Nationwide Children’s also noted that larger issues can stem from sleep deprivation, such as mood swings, risky behavior like drinking or reckless driving, and lessened cognitive ability in terms of memory, decision-making, focus, and creativity which play a crucial part in academic success. Even though doctors recommend students refrain from caffeine and alcohol/drugs to avoid sleep deprivation, the research shows that students cope with sleep deprivation and stress with these very things.  

  “Research results have demonstrated that sleep deprivation is associated with lower grades, impaired learning, impaired concentration, and hyperactivity. Research also shows that teens experience impaired emotional processing as a result of sleep deprivation.  Specifically, increased anxiety, decreased positive emotions, increased negative emotions, increased depression, and more frequent negative moods have been found as a result of sleep deprivation,” Barling said.

 The Rand Corporation, a research group, recently discovered a way to help ease student stress and exhaustion while also earning the country a huge return in investment. Their study reveals that starting public school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. could reap the U.S. roughly $9,000,000,000 in savings. The sources of this income come primarily from two sources: better academic performance which leads to higher lifetime earnings, and a reduced rate of car crashes due to sleepy student drivers.

  The economic cost of rearranging bus schedules sits at roughly $150 for each student and to install new infrastructure to support school activities and later school hours would present a one time cost of around $110,000. The benefits for the country economically outweighs the cost needed to implement this change, and the research shows evidence that such a minor change offers major benefits.

  “Getting more sleep would help me a lot because sleep deprivation and stress affects my school work most of the time because there is such little time to do everything. It begins to pile up unnecessary stress,” Bautista said.

  Stress, exhaustion, anxiety, and other health related issues remain a present issue, and doctors stress the importance of managing these.

  “Everything we learned in 7th grade health is absolutely true.  Sufficient quality sleep, exercise, and a nutritious diet are essential for physical and mental health,” Barling said.

 

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