ELLENVILLE – Winter Break is one of those marvelous times that I always look forward to, like the light at the end of a tunnel. Everyone feels that spark of excitement when it gets close, especially those of us in school. We start counting down the days as soon as school begins. This year on September 5th, my only consolation were the words, "one hundred and nine days until Christmas vacation." Now, 128 days later, that coveted time has come and gone. But why do we wish for this time so badly, what causes all that anticipation? For me, it all comes down to one word: sleep.
Sleep is extraordinarily hard to get if you want to be a good student. School is over at precisely 2:34, but for many, including myself, the day is far from over. There are sports practices and games, play rehearsals, club meetings, and music group rehearsals, all of which tend to run very late. My singing group rehearses from 7 to 9 every Tuesday night. Play rehearsals are 6 to 8. Some sports games can even run past 10. And then there’s homework which can take anywhere from ten minutes to an hour. No one involved in these activities is in bed before 10:30, I’m often up until almost 11 p.m. That wouldn’t be a problem if we could then sleep in to make up the deficit, but that isn’t possible. Every morning I have to get up at 6:30 (an absolutely ungodly hour), in order to be out the door and at the school on time. For some of my friends it’s even worse, they’re up by 5:30 or even earlier. That makes for eight hours of sleep at the most, which just isn’t enough. As the week progresses, the exhaustion really builds up and impacts my focus. I do much better work on Mondays, than on Thursdays and Fridays. After weeks of that, Winter Break seems like the ultimate savior.
It’s actually been scientifically proven that teenagers need more sleep than children and adults. We should be getting at least nine hours of sleep every night, if not more. But not a single one of my friends gets that much on a school night, it’s a luxury strictly for weekends. I usually get closer to seven hours, which isn’t healthy and I know it. But not only do we need more sleep, we need it at a different time. Our "internal clocks" are different, we’re programmed to fall asleep later and wake up later. So, it’s natural for us to be involved in all these late night extracurriculars, it’s just completely against our nature for us to be up at the crack of dawn. But, we have to be, if we want to get to school on time.
That’s why winter break is so important to me. It’s my chance to sleep as long and as late as I want, as I need. Though the vacation was appallingly short this year (only a week and a day), it was long enough for me to actually feel well-rested. I was rejuvenated, and ready to re-enter the cycle that is school, and begin a new countdown. The upcoming goal is Spring Break, my next chance at a good week’s sleep. Only 72 days to go...