Losing Time and Losing Sleep

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Insight on the issues of waking up early for school

GEORGIA THOMS

The buzzard screech of the alarm clock shakes the sweet, comforting, warmth of sleep from your body. Staggering out of bed looking like a drunker version of your frat-bro cousin, you quickly get dressed, brush teeth, and maybe if you’re lucky grab a bite to go before leaping into the car and trying in vain to not die in a parking lot full of sleep-deprived, inexperienced drivers.

This daily occurence of going to school at 7 a.m is no one’s favorite activity. Believe me. This scenario does not even include those with extracurricular activities. Students coming home from practices or rehearsals at the break of nightfall is incredibly unappealing. Before getting their much needed rest, there is homework to be done and dinner to be made. Although falling asleep post-midnight is the norm, it is not healthy.

A study by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention claims that nearly 70 percent of teens are not getting the recommended sleep time of 8.5-10 hours. Additionally, a National Sleep Foundation poll in America reported that 25 percent of teens fall asleep during class.

This is not only detrimental to grades, but also to individual well being and overall health. So, let’s do some math. Schools usually start around 7:25 a.m, and let’s say we get up at 6 a.m. Taking this into account, we need to be asleep by around 9:30 in order for our brains to operate to their fullest potential. Now, if we plug in further factors into the equation like buckets of homework, sports practice, and usual daily errands, this is a highly unrealistic time frame.

The Catch 22 is that while students need to complete homework and study to get a good grade, sleep is also a major factor in getting that good grade and doing well. Students also need more sleep in order to concentrate and understand the lesson at hand. The only logical solution, without changing the workload, is changing the start of school. Pediatricians, according to the Washington Post, say that ages 6 to 12 years of age should sleep nine to 12 hours, which is more than teens. However, children are often put to bed much earlier because they have little to no homework, and have shorter and earlier
sports practices.

Taking this into account, high schoolers should have school later. The argument for a later school day is not new, as the American Academy of Sleep Medicine states that later school starts can benefit adolescents and teens, who are wired to stay up late and sleep in. The statement, published in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, follows similar recommendations from the American Academy of Pediatrics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. It asserts that if middle and high school students are allowed to wake up later in the morning, they will be more focused during the day, more alert behind the wheel, and less likely to be late to or absent from school.

Starting the elementary schools earlier would allow parents to drop their children off earlier, to the bus or directly to the school, and arrive earlier to work. High schoolers,
who do not own their own vehicles, can take buses just at a later time. Most practices would not have to be pushed back, as they usually start either right after school or at 4. So, taking into account adolescent health and their need for sleep, the school start time should be considered for revising.

 

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