Jackson H. Idaho

School and Sleep Matter

School start times all over the U.S are starting way too early for kids to do well in school.

Dear Future President,

Everybody has seen that student in the hall with eyes half shut and head down struggling to stay awake. Waking up early for school can be challenging for some students and can affect many aspects of their lives. Education is one of the most important tools in life, children and adolescents need to have enough sleep to get through the day and be productive in class and be successful in life.

Some research has shown that less sleep equals lower grades. Lack of sleep can not only affect your grades, but can also affect a student’s overall quality of life and their relationships in their lives. Research is showing that lack of sleep can affect kids lives in negative ways. For example, they can develop psychological problems such as depression. The American Association of Sleep Technologists has strong research that supports this claim. They state, “A chronic lack of sleep can cause depression. Although it is unlikely that lack of sleep alone can be the sole cause of depression, it combined with other factors can trigger depression in some people. Links between depression and lack of sleep have been commonly found in studies.” Struggling with depression can be very difficult for a kid, lack of sleep may not be the primary reason they may develop depression but it’s definitely a factor.

Kids have very busy schedules these days, whether it’s sports or other extracurricular activities that have them so over scheduled. On top of those activities they have their homework, which can go late into the evenings and result in lost hours of needed sleep and then affect their grades. In The Daily Nebraskan Annie Bohling states, “Students who get less than six hours of sleep each night have an average GPA of 2.6. Those who get more than nine hours have an average of 3.24. More sleep means better sleep.” The Daily Nebraskan also says, “REM sleep, which occurs later in the night, helps consolidate memories and leads to better test scores.” This research supports that sleep plays a very important role in all children’s education and grades and more emphasis should be placed on the amount of sleep they are getting.

People need the right amount of sleep to function properly throughout the day. Not enough sleep can cause stress on the body resulting in psychological issues such as anxiety and depression. Psychologist Matthew Walker of the University of California, Berkeley says that, "almost all psychiatric disorders show some problems with sleep.'' But, he says that scientists previously believed the psychiatric problems triggered the sleep issues. “Walker's team and collaborators from Harvard Medical School reached their conclusions, published in Current Biology, after studying 26 healthy students aged 24 to 31 after either an all-nighter or a full night's sleep.” Fourteen subjects spent 35 straight hours without getting a wink before being rolled into a functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scanners where their brains were observed while they viewed a set of 100 photos that became increasingly disturbing as they progressed.” This research shows that without enough sleep, you can develop psychological problems in your which can cause anxiety and depression.

Not everyone agrees on how to address this issue, some feel changing the start time of school isn’t the issue, it’s what is happening after school at home. Kids have too much screen time whether it’s tv, iPad, or social media. Kids need to manage their time better, or parents need to set more rules for kids to manage homework, extracurricular activities in order to get more sleep. The Kids Matter article states, “When little ones don’t get enough shut-eye they can become cranky, tired and moody, and run the risk of developing a host of physical and behavioral problems. And with more children using technology (at younger and younger ages), sleep specialists are seeing a clear link between too much screen time – the use of TV, computers and mobile devices – and poor quality of rest.” Students need to pay attention to the amount of time they spend on their devices and manage their time better.

In conclusion, research is supporting that kids need more sleep to be successful in school. More sleep improves grades and test scores, improves quality of life, and decreases chances of psychological issues. Kids should be able to focus in school and get good grades. Education is very important in kids lives, we need to help children be successful in school. Changing the school districts start time of school one hour later could be one positive step in improving student success in education in the U.S. Please help make this change for the future of our children. Thank you for your time.


 Jackson H.