High School Start Times Should Be Later

 The life of a high schooler is intense. They wake up, go to school, come home, do homework, go to work, sports, or any other activities they participate in, all in the span one of day. It takes so much energy to power through a busy day so sleep is a necessity. Unfortunately, high schoolers tend to stay up extremely late, even all night sometimes, studying or finishing homework that they did not get to with their packed schedules. This causes teens to be extremely sleep-deprived the next day especially since high schoolers have to wake up before the sun even comes out. It would be in the best interest for high schoolers health that their school start times should be later than what they are right now. 

 At Walpole High School, students typically wake up between 6:00 a.m. and 6:30 a.m. and get to school anytime before 7:25 a.m. This is extremely early and most of the kids are not even fully functioning by the time they get to school. Once first period rolls around, most students won’t even be half awake, causing them to miss out on a lot of essential information they need from class. On average, teenagers need at least nine hours of sleep to be healthy; however, teenagers typically only get five to six hours of sleep, according to the Child Mind Institute. A lack of sleep automatically impairs your lack of judgment, concentration, and alertness according to Psychologist Dr. Sue Peacock from The Saxon Clinic. While teachers and administrators are harping on the fact that students need to stay more focused and engaged during class times, they often fail to consider that students are forced to function after gaining just a few hours of sleep.

In the Walpole school district, the elementary and middle schools start later than the high schools due to bus schedules and after school activities. However, teenagers’ bodies are wired differently than younger children, causing their sleep patterns to be different. Children’s circadian cycles change as they get older, which causes them to stay up later and wake up later, unlike younger kids, who go to bed early and wake up early. With this in mind, schools should take into account the amount of sleep each age group needs, and plan school start times off of that. 

According to Phycology in Action, researchers in Canada were given an opportunity to study a high school with two different start times. One school’s times were from 1:25pm to 6:45pm and the other school was ran from 7:40am to 1:05pm. The data suggested that the students who attended the school with the later times “demonstrated increased sleep duration and less daytime sleepiness.”

Allowing teens more time to sleep and get the complete amount of rest they need is essential for both teens and the school districts. If students get more sleep, they will improve and perform better in school which ultimately benefits everyone. If schools want their students to be as successful as possible, they should prioritize their students health and make start times later.