It’s no secret that teenagers don’t get enough sleep. The developing adolescent brain and body need about 9-½ hours a sleep per night, and from what I hear, many kids are getting closer to 6 hours, 7 at best.

Thankfully, many districts (including mine) are pushing back start times to encourage students to get more sleep, but we still have to address the underlying problem: Many high school students think sleep is for wimps.

Over-achievers take pride in their sleeplessness, like it’s a sign of their work ethic.

Gamers and social media addicts take pride in their sleeplessness too, bragging about their online activities in the wee hours of the morning.

How do we get them to see that sleep is important, that it’s actually essential for your focus, brain development, mood and emotional health? No wonder teen diagnoses of anxiety and depression are on the rise.

I decided to design a lesson on sleep that would require students to do their own inquiry into teens’ lack of sleep and the consequences. I’m using it in Psych class, but it would also work for a health or physiology course, or a mentorship course.

In short, students collect data on their own sleep habits and attitudes and compile it into a google doc (no names attached), so the whole class has access to the data. Then, students compare the data to facts about sleep, like: How much do we need? Why do we need sleep? What happens during sleep?

I can predict the results. I know the students will find that they and their peers don’t get enough sleep, and they’ll learn for themselves why that’s dangerous. The final step is to prepare a flyer or public service announcement explaining to their peers how sleeplessness affects them.

I’m hoping if they figure this out for themselves, the lesson might stick better.

I’m posting the lesson here. If you try it, please let me know how it worked for you! I’ll post a reflection on my results later this month.