October 19, 2016
Dear Next President,
You bike to school at 7:00 A.M. It’s pitch black, the only light coming from the cars on the road. You forget most of what happened at school, then you bike home. You have two and a half hours of homework, forcing you to go to sleep at 11:00 p.m. Now do this for 38 weeks. Many students face this perpetual cycle of going to school early, having excessive amounts of homework for the night, and then going to sleep late. It hurts their learning and their ability to process information. School start time and homework are becoming overwhelming, consequently making students sleep deprived and stressed out.
Being a 8th grader, I can relate to many of these complaints. I have 45 minutes to shower, get dressed, eat breakfast, and get to the bus. I often feel like no matter what I do, I always have to rush around. I and many others need proper sleep schedules to function correctly and learn to our maximum potential.
Many things can lead to sleep deprivation in teenagers, but one of the leading causes is their internal clock changing. According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Teenagers’ internal clock changes, making them wake up and go to sleep two hours later. For example, a kid who used to go to sleep at 9:00 p.m. and wake up at 7:00 a.m. will now go to sleep at 11:00 p.m. and wake up at 9:00 a.m. As you can guess, this pairs horribly with the earlier start times for middle and high schools. Another way students can get sleep deprivation is from too much homework. This can even occur in first, second, and third grade. A study done by CNN found out that first and second graders were spending around 30 minutes of homework every night! Kristina Janer, a parent in Aurora, Illinois, said that “ I don’t feel like a parent, I feel like a drill sergeant”!
What are the negative effects of sleep deprivation? The effects can range widely, but the most common ones are drowsiness, crankiness, and problems with attention, memory, decision making, creativity, and their effectiveness to learn. Students can also fall asleep behind the wheel, causing severe risk to anyone who is on the road.
Some would argue that starting school early has advantages, and that's true. Starting school early can lead to a 30 percent drop in cost for buses. Students would also feel safer because they get out so early in the afternoon. But students who are forced to stand on a sidewalk at 6:45 in the morning, without any sunlight, waiting for a bus that might be five or 10 minutes late, are in much more danger than students who get out at 2;30 rather than 3:30.
Homework will always be an important part of schools. But it can also hurt students, making them stressed out and cranky. The same thing applies to the starting time of schools. It is a lot to handle, but is is also essential to make students learn to their fullest.