Derry Xu, Staff Writer

Today’s education system demands excellence from its students. For many, life becomes a race of getting the best grades, checking off extracurriculars, and driving oneself to the top. As a result, students today are more tired than ever.

Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, a 2015 survey estimated that around 73 percent of high school students don’t get enough sleep on an average school night. According to Nationwide Children’s, teenagers need between 9 and 9 ½ hours of sleep, but average between 7 and 7 ¼.

To put it simply, students are exhausted and overworked. Accidentally dozing off in class isn’t a rare anomaly, but rather, a direct product of the strict culture aimed at students today. 

“People don’t really fall asleep on purpose. When it happens you can’t really stop it from happening, so [sleeping] isn’t rude because they aren’t doing it intentionally,” said Jessie Chan (’23).

It’s easy to argue that lacking sleep is simply a product of mismanaged time, but students are constantly balancing their hobbies, free time, schoolwork, and sleep. Add that to already heavy homework loads, overstudying for tests due to the immense pressure behind getting good grades, and time-consuming extracurriculars, and it’s no surprise that many students suffer from sleep deprivation.

The fact is that napping in class is neither an intended insult to the teacher or an indicator of the level of interest a student has for a subject. It’s a side-effect of a bigger issue: the current system of education and its punishing student culture.

“I don’t think that sleeping in class is offensive. I think it’s a sign that students need more sleep, and they may be going through something else, and that they may need some support for me in either how they schedule themselves, or maybe talking to someone at home to find out how we can get them to rest more. It’s also a sign that schools need to start later for students to get more sleep, but it’s very difficult to make changes to that. I don’t find it offensive but I try to find ways I can help my students stay awake in class,” said AVHS Spanish teacher Patty Carpenter.

Thus, teachers ought not be offended or angry when a student falls asleep in their class. It’s understandable to be upset at a student neglecting a carefully-prepared class, but it’s also understandable for students to doze off occasionally after pulling an all-nighter. I am not advocating for unabashedly sleeping in class. But when a typically responsible and attentive student simply can’t help nodding off, it’s more productive to wake them up with a kind smile and tell them to wash up in the restroom than to punish them with a referral or a detention.