Later Start Time Leads to Healthier Students
March 10, 2015
Filed under Opinions
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“I’m so tired.” This is probably the most common statement I hear from students throughout the school day. The first couple of periods usually feel like being in a zombie town. It should not have to be this way. I believe that Lake Brantley, and all other high schools, would benefit from having a later starting time.
Studies actually show that teens’ brains work better later in the day. In a poll done by the National Sleep Foundation, it was found that 15 percent of teens say that they have fallen asleep during class.
Also, in a study done by Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom at the University of Minnesota, the starting times of seven high schools were changed to 8:40 a.m. They found improvements in attendance and enrollment rates, as well as increased daytime alertness in students and decreased student-reported depression.
Moving back the starting time of high schools would also be better for teens’ health. According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, when children reach adolescence, their sleep cycles shift two hours, which makes it difficult for teens to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. With students waking up around 6:00 a.m., that only leaves about seven hours or less of sleep, which is far from the recommended amount.
In fact, a National Sleep Foundation poll found that 87 percent of high school students are getting less than the recommended eight and a half to nine hours of sleep per night. This sleep deprivation can be very detrimental to students’ learning and normal functioning.
Sleep deprivation can also be very dangerous. It increases the risk of traffic accidents due to drowsy driving. It also makes teens more vulnerable to depression and anxiety. All of this will get in the way of learning, which defeats the purpose of waking up so early for school in the first place.
Now it is true that by moving the school schedule back, it could provide less time for students to do homework or participate in after-school activities. There can also be issues with carpooling and after school jobs.
But in my opinion, it is much better to be healthier, safer, and doing better in school, yet have some schedule issues, than the opposite.
In 1999, a congressional resolution called the ZZZ’s to A’s Act was introduced by Representative Zoe Lofgren. This bill aimed to have schools start after 8 a.m., asking the Secretary of Education to do a study in which school start times and adolescent health would be compared.
In 2014, the National Sleep Foundation started working with Lofgren to show support for this bill.
Movements like these should be greatly supported. Having a later start time at Lake Brantley would create more healthy, motivated, and, ultimately, intelligent students.