Why School Should Start Later
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Health and Wellness

Why School Should Start Later

Every kids dream come true.

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Why School Should Start Later
Pixabay

Waking up for school in the morning is a common area of hatred for all high school students. Parents often comment that their children stay up too late and sleep in too late. What they may not know, however, is that this shift in sleep schedule may not be entirely their own fault.

Sleep is as important to you as drinking water and breathing. According to uclahealth.org, since teens are in a stage of growth they need more sleep than adults. According to the national sleep foundation, teens need 9.25 hours of sleep a night. At the very least, they need 8.5 According to the CDC’s Youth Risk Behavior Study, 70 percent of US high school students get less than 8 hours of sleep on school nights. The consequences of not getting enough sleep are great, and can lead to all sorts of problems both physically and mentally.

Not getting enough sleep can lead to things such as depression, lower ability to do physical activity, and a drop in grades and information retention. The national sleep foundation poll results showed that about half of the teens surveyed had a depressive mood. Those adolescents also reported not being able to get enough sleep at night and being overly tired throughout the day. Overall, 30 percent of high school students fall asleep during school.

Kids notice the effect not having enough sleep has on them. There have been reports in schools who have moved up their start times of straight A students’ grades droppings and sports team records dropping rapidly. Kids are not the only ones who notice their lack of sleep, parents are noticing this too and are becoming advocates for their children. High school students do not function before 9:00 AM. Parents have to deal with waking up children in the morning who want nothing more than to go back to sleep. They also have to deal with the effects such as lower grades, moody behavior, and depression. Parents don’t want to see their kids tired. Some schools start as early as 7:00 am, when it is still dark out. Getting only a few hours of sleep also makes teens more susceptible to injury, and lowers their impulse control and reaction time, important for drivers. Starting this early and expecting kids to walk or drive to school could be the most harmful effect of all. More than half of American adolescents have driven drowsy during the past year. In Charlotte, North Carolina, three kids this year have been killed in car accidents before school. In Michigan, a five year old was killed in a hit in run of a drowsy driver trying to make a 7 a.m. school time.

As kids get older they have shifting circadian rhythms, or sleep patterns. Most teens aren’t able to sleep before 11 p.m. The best time for kids to sleep is 11 p.m. to 8 a.m. Many kids get up at 6:30 a.m. in order to get to school on time. Even with the natural push to fall asleep at 11 p.m., lots of teens go to sleep past that time. They are so busy with school, sports, social, and extracurricular activities that sleep is an afterthought. It is common for sports practices to end as late as 6:30 p.m. Kids then have to take care of responsibilities at home, go to work, and spend time socializing. On top of all that, kids have on average two to three hours of homework at night, keeping kids up and keeping them from getting the right amount of sleep. Electronics also play a factor in how well kids sleep. Most American teenagers are on tablets, phones, or watching TV before they fall asleep. Using electronics in the hour before you go to bed reduces melatonin levels, which is the hormone that helps you sleep. Many of the apps on phones and shows on TV wake up the brain, and charge it as if it is daytime.

Many of the most popular social media apps such as twitter and Facebook are the color blue, which is the most stimulating color to the brain, so looking at it when trying to fall asleep only pushes your ability to get good rest back even further. Even if teens were to fall asleep at the time when they’re meant to, they would only get 7-and-a-half hours of sleep. This is thanks to school starting earlier than it should. Most schools start around 8 a.m., and some start as early as 7 a.m., with buses running at 6 a.m.

If school started at 9 a.m., it would ensure all kids in bed by 11 p.m., and they would get the recommended amount of sleep. Even if they were to go to bed at midnight, they would still get a full 8 hours of sleep when most currently get 7. Starting at 9 a.m. would allow them to sleep until 8 a.m., which they would naturally do, and eliminate the need for annoying alarms. In Minnesota, after they changed their school start time 92 percent of parents said they were happy with the change. In the county that the school time was changed in, car accidents for ages 16-18 decreased while they increased in other parts of the state. Schools in Wisconsin changed their school day from 9am to 3:48 p.m. and were able to have a school year from August 23 to May 16 saw a significant raise in test scores and a savings of $2 million on bus fares. In California, research showed that when a boarding school time was moved back just 25 minutes the kids who got enough sleep went from 17 percent to 57 percent.

Almost all students were getting at least 8 hours of sleep.

Life with more sleep is less, well, sleepy.

Later school start times would solve all sorts of problems from less car crashes to better grades. There would be less grouchy kids in the morning and happier mornings with enough sleep, and more teachers being paid attention to in class. The first bell would not be such a drag as kids would be alert and prepared for class. Grades would go up and so would participation and attention spans.

Next time you don’t want to wake up for school, remember a later start time could solve your problem.
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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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