In light of ACE Week, students should prioritize health over academic pressure


Devyn Sapper and Pahal Sehgal

During the school year, we as students are constantly sacrificing aspects of our life for academics. Choosing to stay home and study instead of spending time with friends and family. Choosing to drink another cup of coffee instead of a glass of water. Choosing to stay up all night doing homework and studying instead of getting a full night of sleep.

The CDC says that those 13-18 should be getting at least 8 hours of sleep at night and anything less, is not enough sleep. Of students surveyed by the CDC, 72.7% of high school students were not getting enough sleep on school nights. This lack of sleep in adolescents can lead to major health deficits such as the development of type 2 diabetes and increases in depression and anxiety.

Students are increasingly learning to manage themselves on such little sleep due to caffeine dependence. Students are becoming increasingly reliant on energy drinks and coffee just to get through a school day without falling asleep because they are not getting enough sleep at night, us included. Experts do not recommend that adolescents consume more caffeine than what is in one cup of coffee (100 mg). From personal experiences, we have certainly drank more than just one cup of coffee in one day, especially with ACE’s coming up so soon. 

The health detriments from over-caffeination are just as bad as the detriments from little sleep alone. With caffeine overconsumption, students can experience lack of focus, high heart rate, and anxiety. This can also lead to decreases in bone health which can end up manifesting as osteoporosis later on in life. We all know the jittery feeling you get after you’ve had a big cup of coffee, and as uncomfortable as that is, there are only worse side effects simply waiting to arise when you’re older. 

While adults like to blame poor sleep habits in teens on phones and social media, a more important reason is the immense pressure put on students to achieve at the highest level in academic settings. Oftentimes, there is an ideology created by family members, friends, as well as the media that tells students they are worth less as a person if they are not accomplishing at a high enough level. Characters such as Rory from Gilmore Girls are constantly praised for their intelligence while characters such as London Tipton from the Suite Life franchise are tossed to the corner as comic relief because no one expects anything more of them. 

As we fully enter the ACE days this semester, we need to remember that our worth as people lies beyond whatever score we get on a project or exam. It is not worth it in the long run to continue sacrificing our sleep and therefore our health, both now and in the future. Carmel has already made improvements with student sleep in mind, from moving school start times ahead to the abolition of traditional finals. Now it’s time for students to take advantage of the opportunities given to us by the school to put ourselves first. Academics are important to building a better future for ourselves, but it is also important that we are physically and mentally capable of living in that future at all.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Devyn Sapper at [email protected] and Pahal Sehgal at [email protected] 

To see more of Devyn’s work, click here.

To see more of  Pahal’s work, click here.