Students Should Be Demanding Later Start Times

Adults love to give teenagers a bad reputation for not getting enough sleep due to the fact they are spending to much time on their phones or watching Netflix late into the night. Teachers use this as reasoning to why students have trouble focusing or staying awake during class. But despite these accusations, being under-rested is not the teens fault. Studies done by many different organizations, including the National Sleep Foundation, show that it is perfectly normal for teens to not be able to fall asleep before eleven o’clock. This can be linked to the changes that a teenager’s body is going through during this stage.
Though teens have issues falling asleep early, they still need to get at least eight to ten hours of sleep per night. Teens need this amount of sleep to function well but due to early start times that can be very difficult. Another study done by Dr. Mary A. Carskadon of Brown University in ‘98 found that the levels of melatonin, a chemical to help you sleep, increases at later times in the night the older you get, making it more difficult to fall asleep earlier. This means that the school start times directly conflicts with a teenager’s natural sleep cycle.

Other studies done by Carskadon looked at adolescents at the beginning of freshman year and then again sophomore year seeing if starting school earlier was necessary. The study showed that the earlier start time did not benefit the students in any major ways but they were getting substantially less sleep. Another study found that only fifteen percent of students were getting 8.5 hours of sleep per night. Not only does less sleep cause students to be drowsy during the day, but it has a direct correlation with students’ grades and attendance. When asked if more sleep would be beneficial to her, Ella Rubenstein, an Allderdice junior stated, “Yes because I wouldn’t feel like I’m falling asleep in class, and be able to pay better attention to what I was learning. When I don’t get enough sleep I have difficulty focusing in the classroom.”

Recently this year Allderdice has become much more aggressive with the tardy policy and making sure everyone is in their homerooms on times. The administration has been placing a lot of blame on the students for being late, despite most of them having to take buses across town just to get here by 7:36. If the school were to move the start time to 8:30, they would not only be able to increase overall attendance, but it would also help increase the students grades and the schools grade-point average, which has been shown to be very important to the school and their image.

An 8:30 start time is not a new idea and has been backed by the American Academy of Pediatrics, US Center for Disease Control and Prevention, and the American Medical Association. Though it is backed by many medical sources, few schools have chosen to follow it. Recently, California attempted to take a step in the direction. A new policy made that will be put in place by July 2022 stating that middle school can’t start before 8:00 AM and high school can’t start before 8:30 AM.
There are countless benefits that a teen will receive from getting enough sleep and a later start time. Sleep has proven to help students stay more attentive in class and they are much more likely to do better in school and receive higher grades. Lack of sleep also causes students to forget important things such as dates and names which can also affect a student’s grade. Later start times will also improve attendance and tardiness.

Lack of sleep has also been found to have many health risks. A poll done by the National Sleep Foundation showed that students who don’t get enough sleep are more stressed and can give off signs of depressive moods. More sleep also helps prevent illness and lessens the risk of drowsy driving which has been found to be just as dangerous as driving while under the influence. Not enough sleep also can cause aggressive behavior towards peers and teachers and more sleep could help improve the environment of the classrooms.

If this later start time policy was put in place in more areas around the United States, it would benefit many students and schools. Students would be able to go to school feeling much more awake and be able to enjoy the day a lot more than they do now. They could exile further in classes and will be less likely to lose focus on what’s going on around them. There are very few good reasons to keep the school start time where it is now. By not making a change the school is not only negatively affecting its students but also themselves.