More School, More Sleep

Another weekend of Saturday classes has come and gone. And, like clockwork, another day has passed filled with students’ complaints about our peculiar scheduling system. But as I sat in my first period photo class, listening to the zombie-like moans of my classmates, I couldn’t help but smile a little because I like Saturday classes. Not the classes themselves, necessarily—a Saturday class is really no different from a class on any other day of the week—but the entire system around which they are built. Six-day weeks make Fridays substantially easier and help us return to normal sleep cycles. For many students, Thursday night is the worst night of the week. Because Friday is the only day, for the most part, we all have all of our classes, the volume of Thursday evening work can be overwhelming. This means that I, like many others, end up slogging through a late night and drinking my body weight in coffee the next morning, then banking on a long Saturday morning sleep-in for recovery. While this routine may not seem so terrible, these alternating nights of light and heavy sleep undermine our ability to maintain a healthy sleep cycle. As Mike Kuta, Director of Athletics and resident sleep specialist, reminded proctors and prefects early this fall, we’re much better sleeping seven or eight hours every night than sleeping five hours during the week followed by twelve on the weekends. Saturday classes combat this exact problem. Thursday night is made manageable by the removal of two subjects from the night’s workload, and the addition of a pair of free periods during the day gives us even more leeway to go to sleep early. The tradeoff, of course, is that come Saturday morning we must wake up for 8:30 a.m. classes, but with only two subjects worth of homework there’s no reason why we shouldn’t be able to get a decent amount of sleep on Friday night. “But Scott,” proclaim the naysayers, “Friday night is supposed to be a night for being social! It’s a celebration that we’ve made it through the week. We shouldn’t have to spend it stuck inside doing work!” The argument that Saturday classes keep Friday from being a social night is supported by two claims. First, there are fewer events on Friday nights. And second, going to these events entails staying up late to finish homework for Saturday. A cursory look at the Weekender of the last Friday before Saturday classes, however, shows that that Friday was just as busy as any other, with DramaLabs, a CAMD presentation and the Faculty Charity Dodge Ball Tournament. It is further worth noting that all three events ended at or before 8 p.m., giving us ample opportunity to finish a paltry two subjects’ worth of homework in time to get a good night’s sleep. “Okay, but six-day weeks lessen our total free time and make the weekend feel shorter and less restful.” I don’t know about you, but personally, I gain free time on six-day weekends. I can’t even come close to counting the number of times that I’ve woken up at 1:30 on a Saturday afternoon and immediately felt the crushing depression that comes from knowing I’ve just wasted half the day sleeping. Try as I might, I never seem able to coax myself out of bed any earlier without an outside motivator. By comparison, academic Saturdays finish class around 10:30, which means I net about three hours of unrestricted time. This extra time actually makes my weekend feel longer than our regular, class-free ones. Saturday classes do not, in and of themselves, offer any sort of benefit to students. The systems in place at schools like Exeter and St. Paul’s—wherein every week is six days and there is no extra time built into the schedule—sound miserable. But occasional Saturday classes here at Andover serve to break the monotony of our regularly scheduled weekends, while simultaneously helping us maintain normal sleep cycles. Scott Sanderson is a three-year Senior from West Newton, Mass.