A few issues back, your correspondent talked about the faculty expectations regarding their student’s sleep. Most faculty surveyed said that they expect students to be in bed between 10:00 and 10:30 pm (this timeframe represents both the median and the mean of faculty responses). Readers of the previous article may recall that the mean and the median of responses changed after learning that some students would have to go to bed earlier than 8:30 in order to get an optimal amount of sleep and arrive at school on time. About 40% of the faculty that responded, said that they would change their answer in light of that kind of information. As we said in the last piece, this suggests a rather significant misunderstanding of what is a realistic amount of sleep for students by the faculty. Recently, we gathered some more concrete examples showing the amount of sleep that students get. It is important to note that the following data is derived from only 65 responses. We asked students for the amount of sleep they got per night on all the nights before school days. The results indicate, on Wednesday night, students report getting the least amount of sleep. It is important to note that the reported range (between just over eight hours and just over seven hours) is small, and the study is not especially precise. But assuming the differential is reflective of something real, it raises interesting questions. The data would seem to suggest that the amount of sleep that student’s get is dependent on the overall amount of time that the students have to do their work, seeing how Sunday nights and Thursday nights are the two nights both with the most sleep. Another hypothesis would be that Fridays (with Tutorial) and Mondays (with Chorus) have fewer academic classes overall. Moreover, Tuesdays and Thursdays (with more single periods than Wednesdays and Fridays, and therefore more distinct classes) correlate with students getting less sleep on Monday and Wednesday nights. It seems likely that both of these are important factors. Based on the results, a smaller amount of homework, in combination with limiting the number of different classes that can happen in a single school day, could lead to more sleep throughout the week. We also asked students what time they went to bed. Results from the student survey that on average, students go to bed between 10:30-11:00. This is just one time interval later than what the faculty hoped for the student body. So what does that data mean? The faculty are actually not too far off from the estimate of students’ bedtime, but what they are less aware of are the times that the students have to get up. Many of the responses from the faculty suggested a widespread feeling that it was hopeless to encourage the students to get more sleep, and that even if there was less homework, students would still stay up late, and need to get up early. However, the night-by-night data suggests otherwise. The amount of homework (as suggested by the number of discrete classes meeting the following day) and the time to do it in (indicated by dismissal time or weekend) has a direct correlation with the amount of sleep students get: the more time there is to do homework, and the fewer classes there are to do it for, the more sleep students report getting. Some faculty members have suggested that school should start later, and the school day should be reworked. On the other hand, anecdotal evidence suggests that there are some students (and parents) who value the workload as much as they complain about it. Either way, no constituency is unified on the subject; and if the student’s, parents or the faculty cared more about the subject, more
action could be taken.