School Start Times

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA               Have you ever slept in on accident on a school day because you were up late?  Have you ever accidentally fallen asleep during class?  Either because you went to bed late or just couldn’t sleep?  It is all related to a teen’s bodies Circadian Sleep Rhythm.

Teenagers on average fall asleep later in the night than adults because their sleep cycle is set for later in the night.  Teenagers need to receive 8-9 hours of sleep every night.  If the average student is falling asleep every night after 11 p.m. and school starts at 7:30 a.m., students will not be getting a healthy night’s rest.  According to Dr. Jeff Deitz, psychiatrist and writer for The Huffington Post, “High school should start at 8:45 a.m., or better at 9 o’clock.”

Some people believe that if school were to start later, students would choose to stay up and not gain any extra sleep.

“Most students would stay up later,” said psychology teacher Melody Barger, using late arrivals as evidence of students choosing to stay up later and still arriving at school late.

However, there is evidence suggesting that on average students would receive more sleep.

“In suburban districts, students reported gaining an average of about one hour of sleep per night, since their bed times stayed the same even after the start time change,” reported the National Sleep Foundation on studies of school start times in Edina and Minneapolis, Minnesota.

Another problem that is brought up when discussing school start times is how to handle after school activities.

“I would probably have less time to do homework,” said junior Usama Tahir.  Tahir also talked about how it would push sports further into the evening for him possibly causing problems with his schedule which may lead to the same amount of sleep or even less sleep.

One alternative solution would be to offer a PE class 4th and 8th block that is for sports to start practicing. The class would count as an elective credit and would allow practices get an extra hour and half of practice time before the end of school.

Either way, the most important issue is that teenagers aren’t getting enough sleep. Either they are going to bed too late or school is starting too early.  With evidence showing that it is not easy for students to fall asleep before 11 p.m., maybe school districts should start examining a new schedule that includes a later start time, and look for ways to help students sleep better at night.  Who knows, maybe you will finally be able to stay awake through math class.

By: Zack Becker  Online Editor