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Why School Should Start Later

December 26, 2016

 

According to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, high schoolers need at least 9 hours of sleep a night. However, the average high school student gets about 7 hours of sleep a night. Thus, it is extremely unlikely that you, or anyone else at this school, are able to get the sleep that your body needs to properly function. Why is it that none of us are able to get enough sleep? Is it because we get too much homework or we procrastinate too often? No. The real reason why nobody is able to get the sleep their body needs is that school just starts too early in the morning: school needs to start later in the day. I am a victim of sleep deprivation just like anyone else at this school, and starting school later will not only have a profound positive impact on my life, but also the lives of the entire student body.

 

Sleep deprivation is a serious and all too frequent problem. Not getting enough sleep affects one's health and the way he goes about his day. A study from Harvard determined that not sleeping enough can increase one’s chance of getting different sicknesses because good sleep strengthens the immune system and preserves many of the blood vessels, and poor sleep does the opposite. Insufficient sleep also hurts one’s ability to focus. This can be fatal, as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that nearly 100,000 car crashes per year are the result of drowsy driving. According to the CDC, lack of sleep can increase someone’s chance of becoming overweight or becoming depressed. Another study showed that not getting enough sleep when one is an adolescent (that’s us) can hurt the brain in the long term.

 

Sleep deprivation can be very bad and nearly fatal, but there isn’t much a high schooler can do to get more sleep. At the very least, we have to go to school for seven hours, maybe go to sports practice, and then do our homework. But the school and its administration can do something by starting the school day at something more like 9 am compared to 8 am. One more hour of sleep can make all the difference. Gaining an extra hour of sleep helps improve productivity and helps to reduce stress. Most importantly, just one more hour of sleep can reduce the horrible consequences of sleep deprivation. You don’t have to be scientist or a genius–I certainly am not–to understand that less sleep can be very bad, and more sleep can be very beneficial. But the issue is that if we try to get even just an extra hour of sleep, we have to sacrifice something, which we just can’t afford to do. Many of us try to catch up on our sleep during the weekend, but this doesn’t do much good either. The school has to step in and make some changes and come up with a solution to promote the health and wellbeing of its students. There are schools that have started later in the day, and the results are unmistakable. A study from the University of Minnesota found that attendance and academic performance in math, English, science, and social studies improved at schools with later start times, while tardiness, substance abuse, and symptoms of depression declined. This solution is certainly possible, and it is desperately needed.

 

So you may ask, why doesn’t the school day start later in the morning when science overwhelmingly supports a late start to school? The answer is that there are some valid reasons to not do it. One is the question of what you will do with kids who have to come to school at 8, but there are so many things that we can do, such as before school programs. We can also start school later and end at a similar time, since kids will be more productive in school with an extra hour of sleep. And sure, it might be difficult for public schools to switch the time school starts because of a plethora of logistical problems, but those problems don’t exist for a private school like Collegiate. It’s a lot easier for Collegiate to change its hours than it is for another school. Any of the possible issues that could arise from this change are easily solvable for Collegiate.

 

Sleep deprivation is a very serious problem, and schools are risking a great deal by preventing kids from getting enough sleep. Starting school later in the morning is a sensible and a proven solution, and Collegiate is much better suited to implement this solution than most other schools are. Now is the time to make this change.

 

 

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