Does School Start Too Early

In my opinion, I think school starts too early for students to get an adequate amount of sleep. There’s a ton of research that shows that teens do not get enough sleep. There are a ton of potential things that come with not getting enough sleep such as being at a higher risk to be overweight, more likely to not get physical activity, possibly show signs of depression, give into doing harmful things (alcohol, tobacco, drugs), and performing poorly in school. 

There are many reasons that teens stay up later than they should, many of the reasons being school itself. Polls show that high school students can spend 3-15 hours doing homework per week but that’s an average and higher-level classes may demand more. High-level classes such as AP and IB classes demand more work to be done to prepare for college and teach students to commit to their work. Student-athletes also have a problem when it comes to workload because sometimes they don’t get home until 8-10 pm from away games and then they still need to eat, shower, do their homework, see their family, and prepare for the following day. There has been biological research that shows when you turn 13 circadian rhythms shift in the brain. That means scheduling in your brain is thrown off which makes adolescents want to stay up later and wake up later in the morning. The shift starts at around 13, it gets stronger around 15, and eventually peaks at around 18. It makes it difficult to go to sleep before 11 pm and if you go to bed at 11:30 and wake up at 6:30 that is 7 hours of sleep. 

Many schools have shifted their time frames to benefit their students. The middle school isn’t awful about the schedule but I don’t think middle school is the priority in this issue. High school is definitely the priority for many reasons but I think all the grades could benefit if we started later in the morning. Our bus schedule could also be shifted for instance the elementary school could be bussed first then the middle school, and finally the high school. This would work out good for many reasons; elementary school-aged kids are more awake, don’t take as long to get ready, have less homework, and those who don’t ride the bus can get rides from their parents. School would get out later but I don’t think students would mind if we got to go later. Studies also show that the later time getting out doesn’t affect after school activities or part-time jobs. Other studies show that starting school later lowers depression rates, reduces students in car crashes, and raises attendance just by getting more sleep. I think some students would exploit this opportunity but the students who need it would greatly appreciate it. 

I think a possible solution could be elementary could start at 8:30, middle at 9:00, and high school at 9:30. The elementary could get out at around 3:15, middle around 3:45, and high around 4:15. After school sports for the middle school could get out at 5:45-6:00 and the high school 6:15-6:45. For sports games, they usually don’t start until 5:30 so that could stay the same even if other schools don’t shift their schedule. I think other schools should start to do this too and if Salem does it, it could catch attention of other schools and they would consider it too. 

I think this shift is going to become more popular once people start seeing the benefit. I feel the students would greatly appreciate it and would look at school as less than a prison type place and more of a place to learn where they are the priority. I think school should start later in the morning and I think schools should recognize the needs and wellbeing of the students. 

https://health.usnews.com/wellness/for-parents/articles/2018-03-20/how-much-homework-is-too-much-for-our-teens

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/school-starts-too-early/

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/sleep-drive-and-your-body-clock

https://www.cdc.gov/features/school-start-times/index.html