Delaying School Start Times

Nama Poulos, Contributor

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Sleep is one of the most important functions our body completes, it allows us to grow, rest, and re-energize. As a young student, it can be quite difficult to carefully balance school, activities, and sleep. For many teens, it can seem as sleep deprivation is caused by school, its stress, homework, and even start times. Recently a few school systems across the nation have implemented delayed start times, aiming to further encourage healthier sleep schedules for students. The big questions for many administrations are whether or not a later begin is beneficial and whether or not postponing beginning times of classes is the right thing to do.

Most school systems start early in the morning, some even begin as early as 7:00. These times can make getting a healthy amount of sleep much less achievable as this would mean many students have to wake up around or even before 6:00. It has been made clear by researchers that teens need eight to ten hours of sleep each night. When trying to both get ready for school on time and obtain a recommended sleep schedule, students would need to be ready to sleep around nine o’clock. As a middle school student, I know how difficult it can be to sleep this early in the night. This also proves to be almost impossible for teens involved in extracurricular activities and sports from which teens often get home very late. According to the latest National sleep foundation poll, over 87 percent of the nation’s high schoolers fall short of sleeping at least eight hours.

All of the side effects of sleep deprivation impedes on students’ learning abilities including focus and determination, but there is a solution. The simple act of changing start times has proven to be quite effective.  In Seattle public schools the start times were simply changed from 7:50 to 8:45 and the schools experienced success. Teens in Seattle got an additional 34 minutes of sleep on average due to the small 55-minute change, and grades even raised. If most schools across the nation begin to push back start times I think results and participation rates would increase, which are both very important to students, teachers, and schools.

A popular argument against later start times states that school would then be required to drag later into the day. Although this could be a possibility, there are also many other ways for students to learn the same, accurate content more efficiently. As many schools across the United States are pushing back start times, some have even compacted and shortened the school day to give students more time for their outside lives. The fact that many schools have successfully shortened school days shows that it is very much achievable and much more timely. With a shorter school day, I think more teens would find it easier to participate and pay attention.

All in all, I think many people can agree that the health of teens is very important. Sleep deprivation is found in the majority of teens and is not healthy in the least. Without sleep, students have a hard time paying attention and even learning. It is important to acknowledge that school is of no use if the students are not paying attention and focusing on the materials. Delaying start times is a fairly simple yet big step in improving the lives and brains of all teens enrolled in school.




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Delaying School Start Times