School Should Start Later

By Omer Qureshi

Teen anxiety, drowsiness, and laziness has been befuddling parents for years, but it has a very basic root. Sleep. Studies show that teens naturally go to bed very late yet our school system forces them to wake up the earliest. School start times should be pushed back to better accommodate teenagers sleep schedules.

Teenagers need more sleep than most other age groups, but the early school start times forces them to wake up much earlier than they naturally should. The Sleep Foundation found that teens operate best with about eight hours of sleep, while adults need only about seven. Additionally teens naturally go to bed between 11 and 12 at night. With early school start times this means the vast majority of teens get less than 8 hours of sleep.

The research suggests teens should not wake up before about 8 a.m.; however, they are normally awake by 6 a.m. leaving them with only six hours of sleep. These six hours come with a slew of negative effects and push teens into what is called “sleep debt”, which means that they must make up the sleep they missed eventually. Simply looking at logistics, it is clear that the school day should start later.

Another thing that has become abundantly clear in recent years is that, like everyone, teens operate better mentally when well rested.

More sleep for students has many benefits including heightened memory, better mood, clearer thinking, and heightened engagement. These benefits would lead to much more active students and better performance across the board. According to a study by McGill University, students who receive the recommended level of sleep receive a 14% boost in grades compared with students who do not.

The American Academy of Pediatrics issued a statement to push back school start times to at least 8:30 a.m. The group has unanimously agreed that the current setup is ineffective and harms students. They found that 87% of teens do not receive the recommended amount of sleep. When an esteemed professional organization with a membership of 60,000 recommends a change, change should follow.

Those schools which have pushed back start times have been met with resounding success. The Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center conducted a study which found that with a 25-minute delay in a school’s start time increased students overall sleep time by 29 minutes.

Almost everywhere in the the nation, students are deprived of sleep.

Nearly every school who has implemented a later start time has been met with success. The best way to solve this issue would be pushing the start of the school day back to 8:30 a.m., allowing more students to get the sleep they need and boosting their physical and mental health. Contact the Derry Township School District school board today to advocate for these changes to benefit every student, every day.