Rubbing drowsiness out of your eyes, you triumphantly box your last answer on your math homework. After quickly checking Veracross, you are ecstatic to discover that you have studied for all of your upcoming tests and completed every worksheet. With a sigh of relief you squint at your phone to check the time – and your optimism dissolves. It’s already past midnight, and you have to wake up again in fewer than seven hours. You turn away, fantasizing about a place where school didn’t start so early in the morning.
Because of these early school starts, students face sleep deprivation and anxiety. Combined, these can lead to issues that negatively affect an adolescent’s performance in school and other activities. If schools had a later start, students would get more sleep, be less stressed, and perform better in their studies.
Sleep. Its importance is constantly stressed, yet it is blatantly ignored. Although studies prove that sleep is crucial for adolescents, it seems that because of large amounts of school work and commitments, students are getting less sleep than ever. High school students should be receiving more than nine hours of sleep every night, yet the average student receives fewer than seven.
Some of the negative aspects of sleep deprivation stem from an early school start. The National Sleep Foundation studied the consequences of sleep deprivation on adolescents as it pertains to schoolwork. Because of drowsiness, students are limiting their abilities to pay attention, retain information, cope with stress, and solve problems. However, according to recent studies, the issue of sleep deprivation does not only affect schoolwork; it also leads to problems like having poor impulse control and being quick to act in violence. It can also present issues such as depression.
Less sleep has many serious consequences, most of which can be avoided with a later school start time. Personally, I always have a better outlook on a day when I naturally wake up. Also, I focus in my classes and perform better on tests when I get enough sleep the previous night. Even just one extra hour of sleep is closer to the nine hours needed for students.
I have often seen students in my first period class slumped over in their desks. I have seen a friend fall asleep during a class at the end of the school day. If school started later, classes that students spend half-asleep would become classes where students are fully awake, able to apprehend the material, and willing to participate. Also, sleep deprivation and drowsiness can be stressful for a student. If adolescents are less stressed, the overall performance of students, whether it be in school, sports, or other daily activities, would improve greatly.
One of my least favorite times of the day is right before I fall asleep because I know that I am going to have to wake up a few hours later. This sense of dread would vanish if I knew that waking up could be extended for a another hour or two. A later school start would cause students to sleep more, perform better in school, and have better days.