A New Start Time
How many times have you seen pictures, on social media, of teenagers falling asleep on their desks in school? You might have also possibly seen them falling asleep first hand, because they are drooling on the desk across from you. The worst though, is when you may have been the culprit of sleep deprivation yourself and have had to abruptly wake up with all the kids in your class laughing about your snoring. Many adolescents are sleep deprived across the nation due to the early school starting times, yet no changes are being made. Many doctors nationwide have done studies, and have discovered that teens need eight to ten hours of sleep each night.
Unfortunately, two-thirds of teens (sixty-nine percent) get less than seven, and forty percent get six or fewer hours of sleep. Parents may say “go to bed earlier and then you might not be as tired”, but most teens physically cannot go to bed during the early night hours. “Puberty may biologically wire teens to stay up late – so forcing them to bed won’t do much good. It pressures kids to stay up later because the normal sense of tiredness that builds up during the day is slower to develop among teens, so they can’t fall asleep earlier if they wanted to” (Time, 1). Due to adolescents’ shifts in sleep, most get their best sleep from 11:00 p.
m., to 8:00 a.m. Sadly, their crucial resting time is disrupted in the last third of their sleep cycles and they are being sent off to school to attempt giving their entire concentration for six plus hours. This is where the fatigue sets in and you end up with a teen sleeping head down on their desk.
At least thirty-three percent of teenagers report falling asleep in school. This means that if you had a class of twenty-five, eight students would be falling asleep during class. Seventeen percent of the people casting votes on school start times said that school should start before 8:00 a.m., but studies have shown that insufficient sleep causes an increase in obesity, migraines, and immune system disruption.
Adolescents may also have health risk behaviors, such as “smoking, drinking, stimulant abuse, physical fighting, physical inactivity, depression, and suicidal tendencies” (Start School Later, 1). Personal lives, along with little sleep start to take a toll on teens, and some end up on a path they may have never imagined. School work becomes a tedious chore, so they start procrastinating and falling behind. Extra curricular activities with friends, such as math club or track meets no longer seem fun, so they quit. Jobs become more demanding, so they are unable balance earning a paycheck, as well as school work.
It is very hard for teenagers to manage their time wisely with all the burdens put on them, and the little time allotted. All these setbacks are not what any teenager would have expected to be faced with and do not motivate them for situations throughout their life. The worst part of all this though, is that it could all be changed for the better if they were just given more time to sleep in the early mornings. Some schools have taken the bold step to start school later. The changes in students they have reported are drastic. With the delayed school start times, communities are not only now seeing reduced tardiness, sleeping in class, and car crash rates, but they are also having improved attendance, graduation rate, and standardized test scores.
A major, multi-state study conducted by Minnesota University researchers and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention linked later start times to significant decreases in teen substance abuse, depression, and caffeinated drink consumption. Just by starting school a half hour later, student car crash rates dropped an astounding seventy percent, and schools saw increased math and reading test scores, with disadvantaged students benefiting twice as great as others. Not only will students perform better in the morning, they will function better throughout the whole day. The Brookings Institution estimate that later high school start times also affect you later in life; they “create a lifetime earnings gain of $17,500 per student.
” (Start School Later, 1) Schools continue to start early in the mornings though, hurting their reputation as well as their students’ health. With all these studies, many should come to the conclusion to start school later, but not everyone obliges. Without a good nights sleep, how do others expect you to be alert and on top of your “A-game”? Your whole day will be bogged down due to insufficient sleep, but with radical changes in the school systems throughout the nation, this sad system of early mornings for teens can be changed, and many more can become successful all day, everyday.