March 8, 2018

School Should Start Later

Fanya Hoffman ’19

High school is extremely stressful. The days are packed without a minute to relax. School starts early in the morning and ends late in the afternoon, leaving little time to complete homework, study for exams and sleep for the recommended nine hours. Although waking up early is a skill necessary for most adults in their daily lives, high school should begin later than it currently does, because it would allow more time for the students to complete all assignments and obtain a healthy amount of sleep.
If school began later than 8:30 a.m., students would be able to wake up later and be better prepared for the school day. Because students would have the flexibility to wake up later, going to bed later would be a more feasible option. According to the national sleep foundation, “the natural tendency for teenagers is to stay up late at night and wake up later in the morning.”
According to a study conducted at Harvard University, “Lack of sleep exacts a toll on perception and judgment. In the workplace, its effects can be seen in reduced efficiency and productivity, errors, and accidents.” In other words, students who do not get a healthy amount of sleep and who are forced to wake up to the sound of an alarm clock well before their body would have naturally woken them up, cannot possibly perform to their fullest potential in school.
Some posit that school beginning at this later time would be harmful to teenagers’ development and preparation for the world, as most jobs start early in the morning. While this may be the case, teenagers simply require more sleep than adults. The Center for Disease Control recommends a teen get 8-10 hours of sleep, whereas an adult only needs seven hours. At this crucial juncture in a person’s life, it is important not to overload with stress and exhaustion from work and sleep deprivation.
It is not unusual for a student to be working on homework until 11:00 p.m. or later. This is a clear issue if school starts at 8:30, because it is impossible to get a healthy amount of sleep.
The clear issue with starting school later would be that school would then have to end later. This could lead to problems for students’ afternoon routines beginning too late, especially for those involved in extracurricular activities. This does not have to be an issue, however, because the change does not have to be a drastic one. Pushing back the school start time by as little as half an hour would make a world of difference to many students.
The time at which school currently starts is unhealthy for students who are in the middle of the formative years of their lives. A later start time would allow students to have calmer mornings before school begins and more productive school days. Clinical recommendations on sleep exist for a reason, and it is time that those recommendations are taken into account by the institutions most responsible for the education, growth and maturation of teenagers. High school beginning later would benefit all students and allow them to succeed and excel in their studies.

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