Explanation to understand students who habitually fall asleep during class

Olivia Day, staff writer

A student closes his eyes for just a second, resting them. He puts his head in his hand to momentarily alleviate the load. Slowly, he finds himself drifting in and out of consciousness. Realizing his teacher is looking away, he falls asleep. His elbow slides slowly off his desk until it falls off, scaring him and making him jump in his seat.

According to Psychology teacher Peter Masciopinto, teenagers are supposed to get eight or nine hours of sleep a night, but with most teens, they are lucky to get six or seven. This “sleep debt” causes students to miss out on rem, rapid eye movement, when the body does its most vivid dreaming.

“It has been estimated that 80 percent of teenagers are sleep deprived,” Masciopinto said.

This has caused a problem in society with obesity, depression, diabetes, and ADD (Attention Deficit Disorder), according to Masciopinto. As far as students, a lack of sleep can lead to a lack of focus in class. The temporal lobe of the brain is where people keep their auditory skills, so when a student is sleep deprived they hear what the teacher is saying in class, but are unable to process it because of their sleep deprivation.

English teacher Hillary Kane states that if a student falls asleep once in her class, she won’t do anything because she likes to give the student that benefit of the doubt.

“They are confronted with difficult material,” Kane said. “I know that I tend to get very tired when I am confronted with serious concentration or thinking for an extended period — particularly if I am learning something completely new to me.”

Senior Danny Choi and junior Margaret Schneider agree that changes need to be made in the form of less homework and a later first bell so students can acquire the adequate number of hours needed for them to pay attention in class. These changes would benefit students such as senior Jack Stillman.

“If I am to fall asleep in class two requirements must be met –I must both be tired and class must be really boring,” Stillman said. “This lethal combination generally creates a hazy effect on my eyes which causes them to become heavy and want to rest.”

Tips for Not Falling Asleep in Class

1. Go to bed one hour earlier than normal (Masciopinto)

2. Draw funny pictures of teachers during class, but don’t get caught! (Junior Becky Holt)

3. Drink a Five Hour Energy (Junior Becky Harrison)

For the Oracle Editorial Board’s take on how teachers should and shouldn’t handle sleeping students, read our issue 6 editorial.