A Later Start Is A Better Start

A Later Start Is A Better Start

High school student falling asleep by a slow computer during a first period class.

Becca Vickery

Every morning, students wake up around 6 a.m. and stumble around like zombies as they try to get ready for the day. After nights of endless homework, students are forced to wake up early and head back to school.

According to the Sleep Foundation, sleep deprivation is a huge problem for adolescents. Teens need approximately 9 1/4 hours of sleep per night for their best performance, health and brain development. However, teens average fewer than 7 hours per school night, and most report feeling tired during the day.

So how can teens get enough sleep? What could be done to prevent students from being tired throughout the day?

The resolution is a later start time for school. Changing the times to let students get more sleep would not only benefit the students, but also the school. Well rested students preform better and would be able to complete their work with better performance.

This was introduced to congress on April 2 of 1999. Zoe Lofgren, a representative for the Sleep Foundation, introduced a resolution to persuade schools and school districts to rethink early morning start times to be more in sync with teens’ biological wake up time. House Congressional Resolution 135, also know as the “ZZZ’s to A’s” Act, would encourage individual schools and school districts all over to move school start times to no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Researchers also agree. Dr. Kyla Wahlstrom of University of Minnesota investigated this. When the Minneapolis Public School District changed the starting times of seven high schools from 7:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m., Dr. Wahlstrom studied the impact of later start times on student performance, and the results were extremely encouraging.

She also found improvement in attendance and enrollment rates, increased daytime alertness, and decreased student-reported depression.

People argue that schools start early because students have extracurricular activities, like jobs or sports, that they have to get to after school. However, students who are not well rested and cannot perform well in school would also not be able to perform well at a job.

Changing times to let students come to school later would benefit all aspects of their lives. FHS students also agree.

“I’ve heard studies that say kid’s brains don’t start functioning until 10 o’clock in the morning, so it makes sense to me to start school later. I think students would be better off with more rest so they could do better work in school.” said Chad Chiklis, a senior at Franklin High. “With work and other activities, and homework on top of that, it’s hard to get everything done and find time to sleep.”

Do you think schools should have a later start time?

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