Schools' Early Start Times Are Literally Harming Its Students

Schools' Early Start Times Are Literally Harming Its Students

Without sleep, functioning is impossible.

It is 5:55 am, and my alarm honks at me annoyingly. I know I have two snoozes so I use them, but I finally jolt awake at 6:45. Oh, no, I'm already late. I was supposed to be leaving now!! I swing quickly out of bed and run into the bathroom, noticing suddenly how dark the house is.

Oh yeah. It's 6:45 in the morning.

Usually, my house would also be bustling, but my dad has already left to take my brother to middle school early for his band rehearsal, and my stepmom and stepbrother are about to get up with the same panicked feeling of tardiness that I experienced. I try to make myself hurry, but it is hard. I went to a club meeting afterschool, then I went to work and finally collapsed into bed to do some homework around 9:30. I think I finally nodded off around 1am - my third consecutive night of less than six hours of sleep.

Truth be told, for an 18-year-old female, I should be getting at LEAST 8h per night. By the end of the week, when I finally escape school Friday afternoon, I have a sleep deficit of close to 15 hours. At 30 hours, my immune system will weaken and I will get sick or begin to experience other mental or physical symptoms of unhealthiness.

"I'll sleep earlier tonight," I promise myself every day. Yet I usually cannot sleep earlier at night anyway, and only regret the late-night productivity (...or social media perusing) of the night before when I have to wake up the next morning. The truth is, if our entire days just began 2-3 hours later, everything would be much better.

To address the glaring point, people could sleep in. Less drowsy people are safer and more productive, are able to focus better and can more easily access their creativity since their brains are firing more quickly. They will perform better and will generally be happier, since a lack of sleep has been found to exaggerate and worsen symptoms of mental disorders like depression, anxiety and several mood disorders.

On the back end of the day, you have more safety on the road. Staying awake for 18+ hours impairs someone as if they had a BAC of .08, a legally drunk level for an adult (let alone a teenager who already lacks experience on the road); at 24 hours, it is like .1. In fact, 1/3 of people say they have actually fallen asleep behind the wheel, a driving problem that is worse than drunk driving because at least drunk drivers are conscious enough to swerve from an obstacle; an unconscious snoring driving will slam into it at 60 mph.

But most importantly, and logically, there is no reason to begin so early. Most clubs and before-school activities begin around 7:45 or 7:30, which is well earlier than the CDC's recommended start time and requires students to leave their houses even earlier to avoid traffic delays. Before-school athletic practices begin around 6 or 6:30. And it is not as if these earlier starts do anything to alleviate work on the back end - athletics and play rehearsals often go until 8 or 9, clubs stay at least until 4:30 or 5, and any students with an after-school job will probably not get home until 9 or 10. This leaves them forced to stay up late doing homework before dragging themselves out of bed blearily at 6:30 again the next morning.

With a later start, kids can either make up some of this lost sleep in the morning or choose to sleep earlier at night to rise in the morning and finish homework before school. As it is, this "burn the candle at both ends" mentality is dangerous - many teens are addicted to caffeine or other stimulants to keep themselves awake, stress disorders are at an all-time high with millennials (with whom the current student generation can be lumped in) leading, and many people believe they have lost free time to pursue personal interests.

Unless the goal is to work students to death, there is no reason for schools to begin so early. Kids' health is important, especially with relation to sleep as students are growing up. Why are elementary schools the earliest starters at 7:50, when these kids need the sleep to grow and develop? By moving the start times about an hour later, all of these problems would be fixed - and we would have a happier, healthier student population.

And if you think I'm just spitting numbers, I'll throw myself under the bus a bit; today, November 2nd, is the day after a Georgia Virtual School deadline as well as the Early Application deadline for most American colleges. I think I fell asleep around 3 last night, and this morning, I accidentally parked at Northview High School and prepared to go in for the day. I have never attended a day at Northview; but my brain was not fully engaged, I was zoned out, and I then continued to operate a 2-ton vehicle to get to my real school before my club meeting at 8.

Cover Image Credit: Professional Learning Board

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Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

SEE ALSO: Quit Bashing Radford University

Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

SEE ALSO: Stop Putting Down Radford University

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Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college


Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

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