Why high schools need a wake-up call for later start times

David Han, Staff Writer

When you wake up on an early morning to go to school, you probably wish that you could have just one more hour of sleep to be more productive the next day. Because of this, many students across the country believe that schools start too early.  While many teachers and members of the school board would think that teenagers are simply being lazy by complaining about early start times, there are in fact detrimental effects that an early start time can have on teenagers.

According to a scientific study done by the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers need at least 7-8 hours of sleep in order to be healthy and alert, which can be accomplished if schools do not start as early.  While adults can, and should, go to sleep early and wake up early in the mornings to work, the same should not be applied to teenagers.

According to research, teenagers tend to stay up late at night due to their natural circadian rhythms, causing sleep deprivation in students when waking up early in the morning to go to school.  The evidence of sleep deprivation among adolescents is immense.  According to a survey conducted by the National Sleep Organization, around 60 percent of teens say that they feel tired during school hours due to a lack of sleep.  Of that pool of students, 15 percent admit that they have fallen in sleep during class from drowsiness, a sure sign that they are not getting their necessary sleep.

Research has displayed that little sleep correlates with obesity and depression, both of which can damage the health of teenagers.  Students and teachers would be in better moods if they had more sleep because they would be better rested and therefore more prepared.  These circumstances should be taken into consideration among the school board because both the physical and the mental health of students and teachers are very important.

“A lot of the teachers here live very far away.  So by starting school later, perhaps they could be more cheerful when they come in and teach.  Anybody who gets an additional hour or so will be much happier and healthier,” said junior Charlie Lynch.

While many parents and faculty might assume that students will be more productive by waking up early to go to school, a lack of sleep has been demonstrated to lead to unfavorable student performance.  A lack of sleep can impair one’s cognitive abilities, making learning much harder.

Waking up early not only affects a student’s test performance but also is a serious threat to their safety. In one district in Washington D.C., a school’s starting time was made 80 minutes later, resulting in a 70 percent drop in teen car crashes.

One of the main reasons why schools start early is because of transportation issues between school and home.  However, in order to avoid unfortunate accidents, policymakers must consider the safety of teenagers.  The district should also acknowledge that students will have a better chance of reaching their full potential if they are not sleep-deprived.