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Do you hate waking up in the morning? High school students are waking up as early as six o’clock to begin their day. Some even earlier! The unreasonable morning start times for schools work against the natural sleep patterns of teens. Lack of sleep can result in decreased brain power, as well as an increased chance of mood disorders. Students need a recommended eight and a half to nine and a half hours to properly function (Richmond). This is why school should start no earlier than 9 AM.
Our body clocks, more formally known as our circadian rhythm, is a cycle tied to our physiological processes. It tells our body’s when to sleep, rise, and eat. It is affected by the environment. For instance, sunlight and temperature are two big factors. When one’s body clock is disturbed there is an increase in chance for mood disorders, and even obesity. Teenagers who get more rest feel more alert in the evening. This is because your body doesn’t release its natural melatonin until later, in fact they don’t really feel tired before 11 PM (TEDtalksDirector). Therefore, starting school later would allow time for teens to continue on the correct circadian rhythm, and let their natural melatonin increase at night.
Did you know, 73 percent of high school students get less than eight hours of sleep during weekdays (MMWR)? In fact, 43 percent get six or few hours each night (MMWR). The recommended amount of sleep for middle school and high school students is between eight and a half and nine and a half hours (Richmond). If only 27 percent of students are getting more than eight hours of sleep, something is definitely off. It may be because students are pulling all nighters to finish homework or maybe it is because they simply cannot fall asleep. Either way, if students had even just one more hour in the morning, they could catch up on a part of their lost sleep. Partially avoiding sleep debt.
Believe it or not, but about 50 percent of parents are opposed to having later start times (Otman). Some parents are concerned with the transportation issues, after school activities, and adjusted meal times. Students who get rides from their parents in the morning may believe they would experience problems. Some parents would be anxious that after school activities would run later that usual and interfere with meal times.
Although, the practice times could be shortened. This would accommodate for the adjusted meal times, so they could potentially stay on track. As for after school activities, as most know there is normally a busing system for school, so parents would know their child has a ride.
In case our school decides look into changing the starting time, the furthest they would have to observe are the schools that have already made the change. Students who have later starting times are taking advantage of the hours of sleep, and are more alert during the day. The later starts to school have also had a positive impact on the academic performances as well as the athletic performances (MacMillan).
All things considered, it is really in our best interest and health to start school later. Not only does it allow time for our body’s to naturally wake up but also allows us to stay in rhythm with ourselves. Students could also easily correct the amount of sleep debt that has been piling on. Although parents oppose to some aspects, there will always be an uncomplicated solution. In the long run, having school start later would benefit many students who are in need of a healthy sleep pattern.
MacMillan, Amanda. “Teens May Do Better When School Starts Later.” Time, Time, 17 Apr. 2017
“Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR).” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 Jan. 2018
Otman, Haley. “Despite Health and Learning Benefits, Half of Parents Against Later School Start Times.” Health & Wellness Topics, Health Tips & Disease Prevention
Richmond, Emily. “Why School Should Start Later in the Morning.” The Atlantic, Atlantic Media Company, 17 Aug. 2015
TEDtalksDirector. “Why School Should Start Later for Teens | Wendy Troxel.” YouTube, YouTube, 9 June 2017