Imagine Western Expansion took place. Starting school later
this: hearing the blaring alarm buzzing off at six o’clock to get you up and
ready for high school. You groggily wake up from your too-short slumber cursing
yourself for staying up till one-in-the-morning. This sound familiar to
Most of you are probably nodding your
heads in agreement because this lack of sleep was bothersome to comply with for
four years. This is a common occurrence for many high school students
nationwide, which is why schools should start later. The lack of sleep
teenagers receives affects learning and health, while also being caused by a
biological clock that cannot be reset.
Every student come to school to learn,
but what would be the point of coming to school if you’re learning will be hindered
by the lack of sleep you’re getting?
According to studies, there has been an
association with a decreased ability to solve complex problems and less sleep.
(Fallone) Along with not being able to solve problems, students will have
troubles retaining information they learn. (Education Week) This happens
because the brain is not getting the rest it needs so it focuses all its energy
on staying awake and performing needed bodily functions rather than remembering
when and why the Western Expansion took place.
Starting school later would lead to an
improvement of testing scores. In a research at Central Connecticut State
University, 30,000 high school students’ graduation and attendance rates across
seven states were recorded one year before the changing the start time of
school and two years after. The graduation improved noticeably to 88 percent
from the previous 79 percent. As the attendance rate also jumped from 90
percent to 94 percent. (Education Week)
Ever wonder why a cold just wouldn’t go
away? Well, your weakened immune system caused by a lack of sleep may be to
blame. A weakened immune system could account for lower attendance because they
are too sick for school. (Fallone) In conjunction with your body’s defense
system being weakened, your body will also take longer to heal, if injured. (Fallone)
“It was rather surprising to find
such an impact of short sleep duration on these injury-related behaviors and
suggests that sleep deprivation may play a key role in poor judgment and
decision-making among adolescents,” said Janet Croft, chief of the
epidemiology and surveillance branch of the National Center for Chronic Disease
Prevention and Health Promotion at the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention and one of the co-authors of the study. (Wallace)
Imagine being an athlete and having to
stay out of the game longer because you’re not getting enough sleep and school
is to blame; this could lead to depression in teens. Depression and a
diminished mood is a common result of less sleep caused by school. (Fallone)
School districts must choose between later school times and higher rates of ill
and depressed students.
Sleep deprivation as studied has shown to
lead to an increase of risky behaviors in teens. In extreme cases, teenagers
may experience hallucinations, and short moments of sleep during wakefulness
called micro-sleep. (Gofen) Most teenagers drive sleep deprived and may even
undergo micro-sleep on their way to school and/or home which only increases the
chance of accidents.
Sleep is not a big deal to most adults
now, because they were once teenagers who had little sleep due to school, so
they’ve grown accustomed to it and expect their children to be too. “Our
society does not respect sleep, and we have grown-ups that brag about how, ‘We
can get on with five hours of sleep,’ ‘We can drink that Red Bull and soldier
on,’ ‘Sleep is for wimps,’ ‘I’ll get enough sleep when I’m dead,'” said
Maribel Ibrahim, co-founder of Start School Later, a nonprofit focused on
increasing public awareness about the relationship between sleep and school
Laziness is often a common excuse most
adults use for teenagers not being an early bird when in fact a sleep hormone,
melatonin, is the cause. Due to the onset of puberty, and a time shift in the
release in melatonin, teens and preteens find it impossible to fall asleep
until about 11 p.m. Yet, students are still expected to get a recommended 9.5
hours on average of sleep. (Current Events) This is impossible because if they must
awake at 6 a.m., then that’s only 7 hours pf sleep.
“On top of this,” Judith Owens, a sleep
researcher at Brown Medical School in Providence, Rhode Island, says, “there is
also a delay in when a dip in alertness occurs during the early morning hours.
In adults, this low point hits between 3 a.m. and 5 a.m.; in adolescents,
between about 5 a.m. and 7 a.m.” (Sohn) Therefore, teenagers struggle to wake
up in the morning despite how hard they try.
Most parents and school districts oppose
the idea of starting school later because it would cause a variety of problems
such as an interference of bus and sports’ schedules, and cost. High school bus
schedules would interfere with elementary and middle school bus schedules which
would require more buses and more money that the school district doesn’t have.
(Current Events) If one school in a district decides to change their early bell
schedule to a later one that may cause conflict when it comes to sports games.
It may become difficult to schedule games with school of an earlier bell
schedule. Not only that, they say that it would be difficult for outside sports
to practice with an hour less of sunlight to practice in.
All in all, if schools started later, the
brains of teenagers would be thanking them. “For kids,” Mary Carskadon,
director of sleep research at the E.P. Bradley Hospital at Brown Medical School
adds, “sleep is brain food.” (Sohn) Delaying the start times of
middle and elementary schools would combat conflicting bus schedules and save
money. Schools could let student athletes out early to go to games, as they do
now, to fight different school schedules. As far as sports games between
schools they can make the most of the shortened practice time or end practice a
half hour to an hour after sunset. Therefore, let’s all hit the snooze button
on this argument because it’s clear that schools should start later.