“It’s difficult to balance extracurricular activities with school work," Coral Glades High sophomore Neri St. Charles said. "In the winter, I have soccer season. I’ve joined two clubs, and as someone generally in the highest classes available for my grade level, I tend to have a lot of work on any day.”
Deerfield Beach High sophomore Chelsea Mohammed said she joined three clubs this year, "and I helped teach and lead the school orchestra, so balancing that along with my schoolwork was particularly tough. ... It is not uncommon to feel completely exhausted before the school day is over.”
One of the consequences of rigorous schoolwork and other activities is a lack of sleep, particularly due to cramming.
“I average between three and six hours,” St. Charles said.
Coral Springs High sophomore Jazmin Ramirez put some of the blame on advanced courses.“Enrolling in Advanced Placement classes means you are expected to try your best with all of the work you receive. However, doing so becomes a race against time. For me cramming is inevitable. From cramming I get results that I know could be better,” she said.
Sleep deficit “can make a person cranky, lethargic and even depressed,” retired Plantation nurse Jan Cruise said. “Sleep deprivation can affect schoolwork, as short sleepers tend to perform worse on tests. Lack of sleep decreases the brain’s ability to concentrate, resulting in more mistakes.”
Another step that must be taken is to accommodate proper nutrition. This can be done through consuming a proper breakfast.
Boca Raton nurse Hermin Forbes lists the benefits of eating breakfast, including “increased metabolism, which improves concentration in the classroom and prevents excess hunger.” She recommends grainy breads, high-fiber cereals, granola, nuts, yogurt, milk, fruits, baby carrots and hummus.
In addition, Cruise said, “the body needs water to transport oxygen and nutrients to brain cells. Not drinking enough water can lead to dehydration. Mild dehydration can make teens sluggish and irritable. Water should be included in every meal as well as during and after sports.”
Teens today are stressed, but working out can help. “One of the healthiest ways to relieve stress is to get involved in regular exercise," Cruise said. "A quick way to calm down is to practice breathing exercises to reduce anxiety before and during tests.
“Music can also alleviate stress. Students should listen to classical music while studying and play upbeat music to stimulate their minds.”