High school students are adolescents
Many high school students across the nation would say that they are either tired during the day or are not getting enough sleep at night. Although there are many possible solutions to avert this, the one being discussed today is about shifting high school start times to 8:30 am or later. Pushing back school start times will help adolescents get more sleep, which will help reduce sleep problems and help them do better in school. Moreover, the extra rest will help them stay more focused and active in class while also reducing tardiness and boosting student grades.
High school students are adolescents facing many changes in their life such as puberty or a greater school workload. Our body has a natural biological rhythms that moderate when we sleep. The rhythms help produce the sleep hormone Melatonin in the evening that by bedtime there is enough of it to make one feel tired and sleepy. During puberty these rhythms change, causing irregularities in the sleep schedule of an adolescent. It can cause them to feel wide awake, late at night, even when they may have had an exhausting day. The natural bedtime of adolescents is around 12 am but expecting them to sleep at around 10 pm is just not feasible. This combined with the early school start times as well as how late students stay up doing assignments causes sleep deprivation. If an adult were to follow such a schedule, it would be like waking up at 3:30 am every day for four years.
The CDC analyzed data from the US Department of Education from 2011 – 2012 and found that 42 states reported that most public middle and high schools started before 8:30 am, with an average start time of 8:03 am nationwide. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine suggests that adolescents should get 8 – 10 hours of sleep per day. Since school starts early in 42 states and students sleep later doing work, it causes them to not get 8 – 10 hours of sleep, oftentimes resulting in less than 7 hours of sleep. Repeated sleep deprivation during adolescence can cause problems later like obesity, depressive symptoms or performing poorly in school. By shifting school start times to after 8:30 am or later it would allow students to get more rest and be more focused in school.
Some people may say that shifting schedules may disrupt other schedules, causing more damage than benefit. They may say that shifting an hour later can disrupt after school activities and extracurriculars, as well as interfere with parents time of commute to their work. In the 2016 – 2017 school year, schools in Seattle, Washington moved their school start times from 7:45 am to 8:45 am. It was not the easiest of things to do as it meant shifting around bus schedules and extracurriculars but the benefits that arose from it were worth considering. The study found that it helped to decrease the number of students showing up tardy and increased students’ grades as well. Although the study faced with a few difficulties it paid off. Teachers have reported that it has contributed to a significant boost in student participation, attention and grades.
Recently the governor of California signed a bill that would make it a law to start school after 8:30 am. The state of California found that the average school start time statewide was 8:07 am. Compared to 8:30 am, it is a 23-minute shift; moving school start times to 23 minutes later is not such a big difference in time. Mentioned in the Seattle example, even an hour difference didn’t cause too much trouble. Such a small difference in time as 23 minutes will not cause much, if any disruption in anyone’s schedule. Moreover, parents would be considerate and understanding of their child’s schedule and no parent would ever find such small accommodation as a great inconvenience.
All in all, sleep is extremely important for adolescents. With a greater workload in high school, an increased number of activities and many changes in a high schooler’s life, an extra 30 minutes to an hour of sleep can greatly benefit them. When students don’t get enough sleep it can lead to problems later such as being overweight, experiencing depressive symptoms, or poor performance in school. Studies have been done since the 1970s on the deprivation consequences on adolescent health. The benefits of moving schedules has even been experimented and tested in real life as well as a state passing a law requiring later start times. By shifting school start times to after 8:30 am, it is a no-cost and easy to implement solution to help high school students with their lack of sleep and reduced functionality in school.
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