Later school start times needed to avoid sleep deprivation

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jake barry

Many teens in the United States suffer from sleep loss because of how early schools start, which is around 7:00 to 8:00 am. Many studies have been done in recent years that show the advantages of later start times. Research on how sleep affects adolescents was being done as early as the 1970’s when school start times were closer to 9:00 but earlier start times were pushed forward, which is worse for students. Later start times would be better for students.

According to Paul Kelley, a researcher at the Open University in England, “teenagers, due to their natural circadian rhythms, tend to fall asleep at night two to three hours later than at other stages of life.” Also, the The Academy of Sleep and Medicine says that teens that do not get more than 8-10 hours of sleep are more likely to be overweight, not engage in daily physical activity, suffer symptoms of depression, and perform poorly in school.

Changing start times to be closer to natural wake up times for teens could improve performance in school.Reasons for lack of sleep in teens can be caused by a variety of things, long homework hours, work, family obligations, etc. 

Reasons for early start times are few and far between. The biggest reason is that it makes it easier for parents during the morning, they are able to drop their kids off and have time to get to work. Another reason is that it gives more time for after school activities. 

The best option would be to have school start later. Most states however have not done this, 42 states have said that 75%-100% of their schools start before 8:30. It varies greatly however because no schools in Mississippi, Hawaii, and Wyoming start after 8:30, and most schools in North Dakota and Alaska start after 8:30.

The only drawback for students is that they would have less time for sports but scheduling changes could be made so athletes could have a study hall at the end of the school day or the school could give them an early dismissal so they have time to get ready.

Later start times are needed to help students learn better during school, the drawbacks to starting at 8:00 and earlier are too large to ignore and something should be done about it.