The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

The Student News Site of University of Chicago Laboratory High School

U-High Midway

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Conversations about sleep build camaraderie, competition among different grades

Hayla Shah
A iPhone morning alarm vibrates chaotically. Sleep deprivation is a common topic of discussion for many U-High students, but attitudes differ among grades.

Calder Wong put his phone away, sitting in his bed. He could still taste the melatonin gummies and toothpaste in his mouth. He turned off his lights, got under the covers. 

Sleep didn’t come so easily for Calder. He sat awake thinking about school in the morning, ready to fall asleep. 

By the time Calder arrived at school, he had already told all his friends about how little sleep he had gotten.

Conversations about sleep occur often at U-High, serving as a unifying factor among older students, while among some younger students it serves as a competition.

Junior Katie Schmidt noticed the increasingly low hours of sleep followed by sleep-related conversations going around in her grade. The lack of sleep had built a unity among juniors.

“There’s like almost a shared camaraderie as juniors, and, like, even in high school in general,” Katie said. 

It’s common to see a sleep-deprived student resting their head in the library, or someone complaining loudly of their tiredness over lunch. Filled classrooms have a frantic energy of tiredness, which is palpable in the air. 

But the most obvious indicator of the lack of sleep among U-High students is the loud conversations that penetrate the calmness of the hallways. In the hallways, students compare hours of sleep time alongside assignments and studying sessions that often lasted late into the night.

On the other hand, ninth grader Maddie Baker observed her classmates’ conversations around sleep were more like competitions: the less sleep you get, the “cooler” you are.

Junior Uma Malani thought it was a grade-based issue.

“In freshman year it was sort of more of a competition,” Uma said. “I think a lot of it just has to do with going into high school and getting used to the workload.”

The two juniors stressed that as they grew older, sleep became a source of empathy. The conversations turned from competition to shared sessions of venting, specifically about how long homework assignments had kept students up late. This sentiment was shared by the ninth graders, who thought that homework impacted not just the conversations around sleep, but also the amount of sleep they got each night.

Maddie said it wasn’t just the homework itself but thinking about homework and overdue assignments. 

Katie said, “You sleep or you do the assignment, and it’s always the assignment.”

When it’s time to go to class, the conversations in the hallways die down. Grabbing their backpacks in one hand and their phones in the other, students hurry toward their next class, wondering how they would survive the day.

Calder laid once more in his bed, exhausted. A long day of homework and schoolwork had rendered him drowsy and even more ready for sleep than usual. He didn’t even need to take melatonin: by the time he had pulled up his covers he had already fallen asleep.

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About the Contributors
Declan Smith
Declan Smith, Reporter
Declan Smith is a member of the Class of 2027 and a beginning reporter. He started writing during the 2023-24 school year as a ninth grader. Declan is interested in genealogy and participates in the Lab Robotics team. Awards: 2023 Journalism Education Association National Student Media Contests, Boston convention: Excellent, yearbook copy/caption: student life
Hayla Shah
Hayla Shah, Photographer
Hayla Shah is a beginning photojournalist and a member of the Class of 2026. Outside of photojournalism, Hayla swims and runs track for U-High, plays piano and loves to read. 

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