The excessive homework load at Sonoma Valley High School contributes to sleep deprivation, impacts mental health and happiness, and causes a sedentary lifestyle in students.

Students in AP and honors classes can expect to spend between four and five hours a night of homework combined for their classes, plus extra hours over the weekend. The school day is seven to eight hours long, depending on whether or not students have a zero period. With homework, our school day is at least 12 hours long, making our “work week” a minimum of 60 hours.

Some classes are only offered at an AP level, which limits opportunities for students who are interested in a certain subject but do not want to give up hours of sleep for extra homework. Teens are supposed to get around 9.5 hours of sleep each night, but that is not possible with five hours of homework, two to three hours of sports or extra-curriculars, and one hour of personal (family and dinner) time. With homework, students are only able to get five to seven hours, on a good night. The homework load especially affects students who work after school, either by choice or necessity; these students are unfairly excluded from more challenging academic classes because there just aren’t enough hours in a day.

Not only does the homework load affect sleep, but it also affects teenagers’ mental health.

With increased dependence on technology in our everyday lives, students spend more time at a desk looking at the screen than time outdoors being physically active. Recommended time for exercise and outdoor play is at least 60 minutes a day, according to the Center for Disease Control. Most of the homework assigned at SVHS is on a computer, even while new studies indicate connections between too much screen time and anxiety and depression among teens.

Teens who have an unbearable amount of homework may become less motivated to do their work or even be tempted to cheat on assignments.

The homework load has been brought to the attention of SVHS and the Sonoma Valley Unified School District many times, most recently in the form of a homework survey, but nothing has changed.

Twyla Summers is a sophomore at Sonoma Valley High School.