Sleep Deprivation and High School Students

Gabriela Suarez, Writer

Franklin high school student, Maegan Mcdermott, believes that schools should start an hour later because she is just one out of many students who often gets less than seven hours of sleep during the week. With work right after school, responsibilities at home, and homework, she often attempts to get her studies done at school. However, she still goes home with only a few hours to get everything done and still get in some sleep.

According to the National Sleep Foundation’s 2014 Sleep in America poll, about 58% of 15-17 year olds regularly sleep less than 7 hours each night. However, adolescents need at least 9 ¼ hours of sleep each night. Sleep loss contributes to higher rates of depression, suicidal ideation, and obesity. Long term sleep deprivation has also been shown to lead to lower test scores, decreased attention span, tardiness, concentration, and overall academic concentration.  

Scientific studies of teen sleep patterns have proven that the brain of a teenager doesn’t begin to function until 10am, therefore it is not right to start schools at times as early as 7:35 because students are not awake or ready to pay attention during class. After puberty, there is also a biological shift of about two hours, meaning that one who used to fall asleep by 9pm will now not begin to feel sleepy until 11pm.

Maegan Mcdermott says that she very rarely gets more than six to seven hours of sleep because after school, she often has work until 7pm, therefore there are only a few hours left in the day to get any school work or obligations done.

About 86% of high school students have jobs after school and teens 16-19 years old work an average of 17 hours a week. Although it is beneficial for students to work, it can also be harder to find the time to get hours of homework done, with an average of 3.5 hours of homework assigned each night to students.

Schools starting too early is a major national public health concern. Therefore, to resolve this, several schools across the country have agreed to start school after 9am with many positive results. This is still a big debate across the country, however many believe it would be most beneficial, because as Maegan had stated, students are not ready at 8am to be tested or solving any problems. The extra hour in the morning to wake up would allow students and teachers to enter school well rested and prepared.