Sleeping Room Still Open to Tired, But Abusers Could Speak to Deans

Contrary to student rumor, the sleeping room in Isham Health Center has not closed. In fact, “The only thing officially closed is the name,” said School Physician Dr. Richard Keller. Isham will continue to treat fatigue as an illness and allow students to sleep on a need-related basis. However, like with any other illness, treatment for fatigue-related issues does not excuse a student from tests or major assignments. Isham policy states that all students, regardless of their ailment, must sign-in and be seen by a nurse upon arrival. A student’s house counselor or advisor will be notified when a student checks into Isham. However, unlike in illness or injury cases, if a student cites fatigue as their ailment more than twice a term, the student’s cluster dean may also be notified upon the nurse’s discretion, said Keller. Rather than a means of discouraging student use, Dr. Keller said, “If a student comes frequently, there’s something else going on in their lives which needs to be addressed.” For many years, a main discussion topic among faculty has been how best to use the “sleeping room” and deal with student fatigue. In early 2005, the faculty debated about whether use of the sleeping room should be restricted, given that some students were believed to be abusing the privilege. In February 2005, the faculty voted to limit use of the sleeping room to once per term. Students who used the sleeping room twice or more in a term would be required to talk to cluster deans, though that policy has since changed. The “sleeping room” continues to exist because, “The faculty realize that sleep deprivation is a problem here at PA, and until the cause is addressed, we need to offer a solution,” Dr. Keller said. Recent research suggests that teenagers need just over nine hours of sleep nightly. However, according to last year’s State of the Academy Survey, only eight percent of Andover students sleep for more than eight hours each night. Dr. Keller does not believe students will abuse the room. Avoiding classes can put students at a significant disadvantage, as Isham has no protocol for allowing students to postpone work. “Kids realize they would just be digging deeper holes for themselves,” said Dr. Keller. Tiffany Li ’09 disagreed and said, “I feel like kids would just abuse [the room].” However, according to Isham records, only one or two students visit the health center on an average day for the sole purpose of sleeping. Most students in the former sleeping room are there to rest because of other ailments. Isham discourages the fabrication of medical afflictions. Dr. Keller said, “It wastes people’s time and leads to the dispensing of medications that aren’t needed.” However, some students believe that if they state fatigue as their ailment, their teachers will disapprove, and Isham will turn them away. “Rather than being honest about your fatigue, [students] make up some completely fake medical excusr [in order to] get some sleep,” said Audrey Adu-Appiah ’10. Dr. Keller disputed this argument and said, “We will never turn a kid away…Most teachers recognize the need for kids to sleep here.” Dr. Keller continued, “You’re here to sleep if you need to sleep. But it’s not the sleeping room.”