Should School Start Later?

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Should School Start Later?

Ethan Diefenbach, News Editor

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Are you always tired in the morning?  Many high school students are.  At Clairemont High School, school starts at 7:20 a.m., which is way too early for most students to function properly.

School should start earlier for many reasons.  It would be beneficial for physical, mental and the academic growth and stability of students.  Not only would it be easier on students, it would be easier on teachers, as they would not have to teach an unfocused, sleepy class.

For many students, it is hard to be ready to learn at 7:20 a.m. in the morning because they don’t enough sleep.  Many students take time to get ready in the morning, and then they walk, bike or take the bus to school.  This can take anywhere from ten minutes to two hours, which can result in students waking up as early as 5:00 a.m.

According to the Alaska Sleep Clinic, the teen brain does not produce melatonin, the chemical that makes humans sleepy, at the same time as adults and younger children do.  In addition, the average teen often isn’t ready to go to sleep until 10:00 or 11:00 p.m. If teenagers don’t fall asleep until ten or eleven, and they have to wake up for school as 5:00 a.m., they will only get six to seven hours of sleep, while the recommended hours of sleep for teenagers in nine hours.

Opponents of a later start time argue that school should start early because it provides more time after school for extracurricular and athletic activities, but if students aren’t well rested, then they won’t be able to be as focused in school or perform well in sports.  The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) found that “recognizes insufficient sleep in adolescents as an important public health issue that significantly affects the health and safely, as well as the academic success of our nation’s middle and high school students.”

One possible solution to this is starting school later, a recent proposal in San Diego city schools suggested an 8:30 am start time.  Under this proposal, students would get  and extra hour and a half of sleep.  They would be able to wake up when the sun has risen.  Natural light is known to help them become more alert, active and ready for academics.

The AAP strongly encourages later start time for school, as it would, “…allow students to achieve optimal levels of sleep (8.5-9.5 hours) and to improve physical… and mental… health, safety…, academic performance, and quality of life.”

School start time should be later for all of these reasons.