School Days Should Start Later in the Morning
Sleep is one of the most important factors in a student’s health, and shortage of sleep can leave very negative effects on a student’s life. With schools starting so early in the morning, many problems can appear both inside of school and in a student’s everyday life.
To help lighten the huge effects of all these problems caused by lack of sleep, schools should shift their start times to later in the morning. Based on my own personal experience, I have found that sleep loss can definitely be a problem for a student. Many schools give a lot of homework, and it is not uncommon for students to stay up late studying and completing assignments. And I also have fully seen the effects that sleep loss can have. In many cases, I have seen students struggling academically, mentally, and physically. When compared to other days when students have gotten more sleep and are fully productive, the difference is huge.
As of right now, school days begin at some time between 7:30 and 8:30 AM. For many students, especially teens, this is a very bad start time. They have to wake up early, and often don’t get the hours of sleep that they need to stay healthy. “The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that teenagers should sleep 8 to 10 hours a night” (Time). However, according to reports from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 70% of high school students report sleeping 7 hours or less on a regular basis. This means that almost 3 quarters of all students are sleeping an unhealthy number of hours.
In order to help stop this issue, which in my opinion is really important, schools should change their schedules and move the beginning of the school day to later in the morning. Even if by just a small amount of minutes, it could make a big change. Sleep loss also leads to poor academic performance. Researchers analyzed data from more than 9,000 students at eight different high schools in Minnesota, Colorado, and Wyoming and found that starting the school day later in the morning led to a big increase in attendance, test scores, and grades in Math, English, Science, and Social Studies (The Atlantic). According to the same study, there also was a dramatic decrease in tardiness, substance abuse, and symptoms of depression. On top of that, there was a big drop in the amount of automobile accidents caused by teen drivers.
The Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine found out in a 2008 study that teen crash rates fell by 16.5% within two years after a school district moved the school start time to one hour later. These are all very positive results, all of them have come because some schools have already implemented a later start time. However, there are also many doubts to the idea of starting school days later. Many students participate in afterschool and extracurricular activities directly after school finishes, and if school days start later it would be impossible for a lot of them to attend these activities in time.
But this is not necessarily true. Starting the school day 30 minutes later would not necessarily make the school day finish 30 minutes later. Schools in Finland for example, the leading country in the world when it comes to education, only typically last a total of 5 hours. This comes to show that the length of the school day does not determine how much or how well the students learn, and taking off a small number of minutes from the schedule would not impact education in a significant way. Overall, the positive aspects of shifting the beginning of the school to a few more minutes later in the morning outweigh all the negative ones. Already, schools that have implemented a later start time to their schedule are starting to see some very positive results.
Students have gotten more sleep, their health has become much better, and they have had much higher success in academics. And by starting school days later, we would see these positive results with even more students throughout the world.