October 28, 2016
Dear Future President,
Every adult has been a teenager before. Most of them forget just how stressful and tiring school is. Maybe that's why they don’t focus on how they can make changes to help teens not be as tired and stressed but instead focus on how they can fit in more classes and tests each day. A large role that plays into how well a student's day goes is how much sleep they get the night before. Being a teenager is the hardest time to fall asleep early and to get the right amount of sleep yet high schools start before the sun even comes out. High schools need to start later in the morning to improve the success of the students.
Teens don’t get nearly enough sleep that they need. Studies from Nationwide Children’s Foundation show that teens need approximately nine and a half hours of sleep but only get about seven to seven and a half. I am in Junior High and have the same problem along with many of my fellow students. It is hard to fall asleep early.
Unlike young children and adults, teens brains don’t shut down to fall asleep as easily. In the years of being a teenager, the body’s circadian rhythm is reset telling a teenager to fall asleep later at night and wake up later in the morning. It is like a clock in your brain. The reason this happens to teenagers and not adults or children is most likely do to the fact that the brain hormone causes melatonin (a hormone that causes you to be tired) is released into the brain much later at night. “The shift often makes many teenagers incapable of falling asleep before 11 at night.” says teen sleep expert Mary A. Carskadon Ph.D., a professor at Brown Medical School. Many adults don’t believe the science of why teens have a hard time falling asleep. They often say things like, “If teens went to bed sooner they wouldn’t be so tired!” and “I went to bed early when I was a teen and it was just fine.” Saying these things just shows how adults don’t truly understand teens sleep problems.
The lack of sleep has awful consequences that can become very severe. Many people don’t pay attention to how sleep affects them internally. It can limit their ability to learn, solve problems and concentrate. It can also cause them to forget homework and important dates. “Sleep is food for the brain” says National sleep Foundation. This means that sleep is very important. Just like you need food to live, you also need sleep to live. The external effects are not good as well. It can cause you to age quickly and have wrinkles under your eyes and become more prone to acne.
Often times the reason that schools start so early for high schools is because of after school sports. A lot of the schools get done from two to three leaving them about eight hours until they go to bed. No one actually needs eight hours to play sports. A recent study from U.S. Department of Health and Human Services showed that on average teens only spend about 45 minutes a day playing sports.
It is time to make a difference in high school hours to improve the success of the students. It doesn’t even need to be a large time change, just 30 minutes to an hour later in the morning. I guarantee that we will immediately see a difference. This is a small change that will make a large difference.