Why Schools Should Start Later

Taylor Edger, Contributor

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Most high schools start long before any students are really awake and capable of learning. A majority of students go to sleep at or after 11 p.m. When schools start at 8 a.m. or earlier, students are left to get less than eight hours of sleep every night. For teens, the amount of sleep needed each night ranges from eight to ten hours. Eight hours is the bare minimum for teens to not become sleep deprived, and more than 80 percent of teens do not reach it.

The CDC announced in August 2017 that high schools should be starting no earlier than 8:30 in the morning, if not later. Later start times would allow students to get the requisite amounts of sleep. The Centers for Disease Control took research from several different studies that had all concluded the same thing: High school students are pathologically sleep deprived.

Students across the country are all suffering from sleep deprivation. Students circadian rhythm change as they go through puberty, resulting in sleep schedules starting at 11 p.m. as opposed to 9 p.m.

A circadian rhythm is basically the scientific term for a person’s biological clock. The circadian rhythm tells a person when to wake up, when to go to sleep. Most people get up and go to bed at the same time every day. This rhythm changes through puberty, and a student is left to go to sleep hours later than they used to but get up at the same time, if not earlier.

Problems with sleep deprivation include depression, anxiety, mood swings, eating disorders. These are just the big and most problematic of symptoms of sleep deprivation. Chronic irritation and fatigue can be just bad for some people. Sleep deprivation, and its effects, is a largely ignored problem.

Students should not be subjected to sleep deprivation. Students are amidst an important time in their lives, and their development should not be limited by lack of sleep. Schools should be starting later to help make students more productive and more receptive to what they are learning.

“The first step to dealing with sleep deprivation is restructuring priorities to allow for adequate sleep.” – Peter Johnsen

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