Later School Start Times
To the next president of the United States,
Schools need to start at a later time to benefit schools, students health, and student lives.
This has been something that has been talked about for many years, and we need to take action now. I’m currently a sophomore in high school. Those words would probably leave many, less than open minded adults thinking that I’m just a lazy, biased, uneducated teenager that just wants to sleep in. Before you begin to jump to that conclusion, listen to what I have to say and take my viewpoint into consideration. A few reasons why we should start school later are that later start times would increase attendance, early school times cause our grades to suffer, and that early start times negatively impact the health of a developing teen.
The growing adolescent body needs 8.5-10 hours of sleep. “In a recent study, some 10,000 students were surveyed after their schools changed the start time from 7:30 to 8:30. Not only did attendance improve, teenage car accidents dropped 16.5% while schools without the change saw accidents increase by 7.8%.
Strangely enough sending your teenager to bed earlier won't help. That's because the circadian rhythm of a child's body changes at puberty.” - Dr. David Niesel of Medicaldicoverynews.com The circadian rhythm is based on cycles of light and dark. Around the age of 12 there’s a shift in this rhythm that lasts until the teen is done growing. This causes teens to not become tired until about 11:00 PM, and not fully awake until about 10:00 AM. At the moment I am usually awake until 11:00-11:30 and have to wake up at 5:20 to get on a bus at 6:20. That means I only get about half of the amount of sleep that I should be getting. Lack of sleep causes a weakness in immune system. This makes people prone to sickness, causing more absences. Another reason for lack of absences is that teens are just too tired to get up or sleep through alarms. Later start times would fix this problem.
Another problem that early school start times cause is that it causes our grades to lower. “In the 2011-12 school year, after years of regularly seeing students half asleep in class, Nauset Regional High School on the Cape decided to delay the start of the school day by 65 minutes
Thomas Conrad, principal of the 1,000-plus student school in North Eastham, said the preliminary findings show that with the 8:30 a.m. start time, there has been a 53 percent drop in the number of failing grades, and the number of days students were suspended for disciplinary reasons dropped from 166 to 19.” - September 16, 2013 Elaine Thompson, Worcester Telegram & Gazette Staff Lack of sleep impairs alertness, reasoning, concentration, and problem solving. Sleeping also helps to store memories. Lack of sleep will cause students to not remember what they did in class, and decrease test grades. It also increases the amount of bad behavior in students. Longer time to sleep would improve this.
Early start times also hurts the health of students. Ann Pietrangelo, 8/19/2014, Healthline.com said, “When you’re sleeping, your immune system produces protective cytokines and infection-fighting antibodies and cells. It uses these tools to fight off foreign substances like bacteria and viruses. These cytokines and other protective substances also help you sleep, giving the immune system more energy to defend against illness.” Every hour of lost sleep causes a 38% increased chance in feeling sad, and students that sleep an average of 6 hours a day are 3x more likely to suffer from depression. Lack of sleep increases attempts of suicide by 58%. That is an alarming number. Lack of sleep also increases anxiety greatly. Lack of sleep will also iterfere with a teens physical growth in height, muscle, and loss of weight. Some schools like Jackson Hole High School in Wyoming, found that later start times decreased student related car crashes by 70%.
In conclusion, later school start times will cause students to become sick less often which will increase attendance rates, increase general academic performance of teens including on standardised tests, decrease the amount of bad behavior in students, cut down rates of student depression, suicide, anxiety, and almost erase student related car accidents. I believe that high schools should start no earlier than 8:30, and an ideal time to end school would be around 2:40. Right now my school starts at 7:20, and ends at 2:20. Each class is one hour long, and there are 6 classes in one school day. Take about 6 minutes and 30 seconds off of each class, and this schedule would be doable. The reason that we would have to take this small amount of time off of classes, is because many people are worried that later school start times would restrict time for after school activities. Taking 6 minutes off still leaves plenty of class time, and time for after school activities.