Kyla T. North Carolina

Wake Up Call

So, you're the president of the United States now? Great. Wonderful. There are many issues out there to be concerned about, but you should focus on the ones from the next generation first. It may not be a huge issue but, we all love our sleep, correct? Do YOU love waking up at six AM? I think not.

It's funny how, our teachers say "Make sure to rest up tonight!" Yet they also say, "But don't forget to study for three hours before bed for your upcoming math, science, social studies, and language arts quizzes as well as this homework I'm giving you that should only take four hours max! Oh, and also if you don't want to miss the bus be sure to get up at six AM and be at school by seven-twenty five! You should also be eating a very healthy breakfast! You know, one that would take thirty minutes to prepare! And don't be late for school!" You see what I mean? Plus, (I know this for a fact since I have a younger brother who's in third grade) elementary school kids have hardly any tests OR homework yet, they get to be at school at eight-thirty AM and even if you don't agree with what I'm trying to say, do you REALLY think it's healthy for elementary kids to be getting up at six because their noisy older siblings are trying to get ready? It also doesn't help coming into school so tired you can't pay attention to what your teacher is trying to say! You can only think about how you get to sleep in Saturday and eat something for breakfast other than Pop Tarts! 

During the mornings in my math class, everyone (even the rowdy ones) are half-asleep and silent. You'd think being silent is a good thing, if we weren't trying to get in a couple more Z's before the teacher catches us! So, what I'm trying to point out is, we need more sleep and going to bed earlier won't cut it! Trust me, I've tried. Our bodies are just so used to shutting down at a certain time (for me it's usually 11:00 PM) that we can't fall asleep until that certain time! So, the only option is to let us wake up later.

An Education Next article shows how just one more hour of sleep for students can make a difference in their grades. This study shows that delaying schools in the morning by one hour causes test scores to go up at least two percentage points in math and one point in reading. The effect is bigger for below-average test scores, which tells us later start times would shorten gaps in student achievement. Many other studies find that early start times result in few hours of sleep because students might not be able to fully make up for early rising times with early bedtimes. Activities outside of school may make it harder for students to adjust their bedtime. More sleep is not the only possible reason later-starting middle-school students have greater test scores. Students that have earlier starting middle-schools are more likely to skip breakfast -which I do EVERYDAY. Also, if they can get out of school earlier, they are able to spend more time studying, doing after-school activities, spend more time with their families, and will be able to spend more time with their friends. They would be less likely to be absent, late, or have problems with their behavior in school!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                  According to the Math Goodies article, teenager's sleep deprivation is believed to have biological causes. There are some scientists that say teenager body clocks start later. Our body clocks are believed to be programmed two hours later than children's, most likely for hormonal reasons, which is why we work better in the afternoon. A recent study found that the biological changes that usually take place during puberty keep kids from being able to go to sleep as early as they did when they were children. Being sleepy during the day makes it harder to learn, focus, and stay awake in school. Not enough sleep can also cause mood swings and problems with behavior. Sleep deprived teens who get behind the wheel are also more likely to cause serious and deadly accidents. In summary, teens aren't getting enough sleep on school nights. Teenager sleep deprivation is powerful enough that it is able to cause growing concern among researchers, schools, and parents. Research has proven that less sleep is affecting teenager's ability to focus in school. 

Some studies show that sleep deprivation might have biological causes.In the article, "Impact of School Start Times" it is relayed that later bedtimes for teenagers are understood as a biological response to puberty, the beginning of that which ends in a two-hour sleep-wake phase delay without lowering the total sleep requirements. In conclusion, teens have a biological need to be able to sleep later in the mornings. One school shortened the length of a school day by 30 minutes to avoid logistical issues with after school commitments, taking care of younger siblings, and teachers' schedules. This shows that flexibility with scheduling might be critical for successfully bringing change. 

As we all know, High Schools and Middle Schools usually start much earlier in the morning than elementary schools. But, if all school start times were based on sleep cycles, elementary schools would start at 7:30 and middle and high schools at 8:30 or 8:45. Schools systems should be taking the possibility of changing their start times seriously. It will not be easy, but it will increase students' hours of sleep and most likely improve their school performance. 

Studies also show that later start times result in better driving and fewer accidents. A study compared car accident statistics in two Virginia cities with school start times that were 75 to 80 minutes apart to determine if there were any obvious differences that could be retraced back to teenagers not getting enough sleep. In the first town, vehicle accidents occurred at a rate of 65.8 per 1000 in 2008 and 71.2 per 1000 in 2007 and it is where 16-18-year-olds attended school at the traditional start time. Accident rates within schools of the same community that began later stood at 46.6 per 1000 in 2008 and 55.6 per 1000 in 2007, presenting a difference that was statistically significant. In 2011, a study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that sleep deprivation among high and middle school students can also lead to a wide range of health-risk factors including; Lack of exercise, Poor diet, Use of computers for three or more hours each day, Physical fighting, Cigarette, alcohol, and marijuana use, Sexual activity, Severe depression, and Suicidal tendencies.

I hope you will make a later school starting time a priority policy for the sake of teenagers’ health and ability to focus in class, as well as younger siblings getting up when they don’t have to. Thank you for your time.


Kyla Toth

Wake Young Women’s Leadership Academy

Works Cited:

Edwards, Finley. "Do Schools Begin Too Early?" Education Next, vol. 12, no. 03, Accessed 8 Sept. 2016.

Glosser, Gisele. "Teens, Sleep, and School." Math Goodies, articles/teens_sleep.html. Accessed 15 Sept. 2016.

 "Impact of School Start Times." PDF, Family_Resources/general/Impact_of_School_Start_Time.pdf. Accessed 14 Sept.2016.

Wake Young Women's Leadership Academy


Grade 8 Students in Karyn Gloden's 2017 ELA and SS classes

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