Why School Start Times Should Be Later

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Why School Start Times Should Be Later

Friends Select Student sleeps in class while trying to finish work.

Friends Select Student sleeps in class while trying to finish work.

Carlos Eckert

Friends Select Student sleeps in class while trying to finish work.

Carlos Eckert

Carlos Eckert

Friends Select Student sleeps in class while trying to finish work.

By Carlos Eckert, Friends Select School

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It’s 5:59 in the morning, the sun is beginning to rise, and you are in a deep sleep. The night before you got home at 9:00 from work and started your homework while you ate spaghetti. Upon finishing your homework you checked your watch and it read 12:13 A.M. You immediately went to sleep. Fast-forwarding to the morning–the alarm clock strikes 6:00 and begins beeping at a rapid pace, ringing in your ears. With your 5 hours and 47 minutes of sleep, you find the willpower to get out of bed and go to school.

The most important hours during everyone’s day are the hours spent unconscious, resting your brain, sleeping. Doctors from all over the world recommend teenagers to get 8 to 10 hours of sleep. However, due to current school start times, many students are not achieving the recommended amount of sleep and in turn become sleep deprived.

According to an article from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “Schools Start Too Early,” along with sleep deprivation, getting less than 8 hours of sleep a night for adolescents can result in being overweight, not engaging in physical activity, suffering from symptoms of depression, engaging in unhealthy risk behaviors such as drinking, smoking tobacco, using illicit drugs, and performing poorly in school.

The solution? Moving school start times from 8:00 to 8:30 or 9:00. Not only would moving start times give students more time to sleep in, it would also give teachers more time to prepare for classes, therefore benefiting everyone involved in the school. Even an extra 30 minutes can help a student sleep in later, make it to school on time, or eat breakfast before school if they haven’t been able to do so yet.

Due to snowy weather, on March 4 Friends Select had a 2-hour delay and opened at 10:00 A.M. I took this opportunity to ask individuals how they feel the delay affected their day. Upper School Dean of Students, Jim Miller, stated the delay helped him get more sleep and gave him the ability to get ready for school without rushing. Jim proceeded to say, “It makes the day feel much more sane and civilized.” Furthermore, Peter Ryan (’21) showed appreciation for the delay saying, “I feel my performance in school might be better today because I was able to go through my full sleep schedule…  I feel more awake when I’m doing everything.” Whether it be a 10th grader or the Dean of Students, it appears no one is unhappy with an extra hour or two in the morning.

Currently, there are many schools throughout the world that are experimenting with later school start times. The website Start School Later provides a list of school that experimented with later start times and had success doing it. One of the schools, Mojave High School (Las Vegas, NV), moved their start time from 7:00 A.M to 8:40 A.M. The results were incredible: the school saved money with the bus systems, students were able to eat breakfast and sleep long enough to avoid being sleep deprived, teachers had the ability to prepare for classes, and students arrived on time. An AP government teacher at Mojave, John Flauds, noticed immediate changes in students’ attitudes and academics. According to Flauds, “They’re more active. They seem more engaged.”

While many people are for later start times, there are others who may have doubts that later school times would benefit the school system. The first concern would revolve around later end times for schools. When schools end at 4:00 P.M, if students have sports or  extracurriculars and are required to stay for 2-3 hours more, the latest they would leave school is around 7:00. This is plenty of time to do homework and have free time. Another concern is how a later time for students doesn’t take into account parents’ schedules. High school and maybe middle school would be expected to have later start times because these are the grades that give out homework. Elementary school wouldn’t not be required to participate in the later times.

All in all, sleep deprivation is a significant reason students’ performances in school are lacking. Early school start time is a big cause of this issue. It prevents them from eating breakfast, focusing in classes, coming to school on time, and overall ruins they’re mental health. With this in mind a simple solution would be pushing start times back between 3 minutes to an hour. With all the positives pushing start times would exhibit, I think our school should jump on this rising trend.

This story was originally published on The Falcon on April 2, 2019.