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Filed under Opinion

Why school should start later in the day…

A little more sleep, creates big changes...

photoshop by Bryce Martin from google images

photoshop by Bryce Martin from google images

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Elder High School has always been good to me. I love everything about it. But by taking Elder High out of the first three words of this article and focusing on the only word that remains, then there is a problem. School. Not the homework, not the lunch, not the teachers, but the time it starts.

I love sleep. My life has the tendency to fall apart when I’m awake, you know?”

— Ernest Hemingway

Teen anxiety, drowsiness, and laziness has been a part of the lives of parents for years, but it has a very basic root. Sleep. Studies show that teens naturally go to bed very late yet our school system forces them to wake up the earliest. School start times should be pushed back to better accommodate teenagers’ sleep schedules.

Teenagers need more sleep than most other age groups, but the early school start times forces them to wake up much earlier than they naturally should. The Sleep Foundation found that teens operate best with about eight hours of sleep, while adults need only about seven. Additionally teens naturally go to bed between 11 and 12 at night. With early school start times this means the vast majority of teens get less than eight hours of sleep.

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The research suggests teens should not wake up before about 8 a.m. However, they are normally awake by 6 a.m. leaving them with only six hours of sleep. These six hours come with a slew of negative effects and push teens into what is called “sleep debt”, which means that they must make up the sleep they missed eventually. Simply looking at logistics, it is clear that the school day should start later.

Another thing that has become abundantly clear in recent years is that, like everyone, teens operate better mentally when well rested.

More sleep for students has many benefits including heightened memory, better mood, clearer thinking, and heightened engagement. These benefits would lead to much more active students and better performance across the board. According to a study by the University of Cincinnati, students who receive the recommended level of sleep receive a 14% boost in grades compared with students who do not.

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The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to push back school start times to at least 8:30 a.m. The group has unanimously agreed that the current setup is ineffective and harms students. They found that 87% of teens do not receive the recommended amount of sleep. When an esteemed professional organization with a membership of 60,000 recommends a change, change should follow.

Those schools which have pushed back start times have been met with resounding success. The Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center conducted a study which found that with a 25-minute delay in a school’s start time increased students overall sleep time by 29 minutes.

Almost everywhere in the the nation, students are deprived of sleep.

It’s time that this change is made, not only at Elder High School, but every school across this country. I wish everyone in this world could understand how just one more hour of sleep can make a tremendous impact for a positive change.

 

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