Benjamin Franklin once said, “Early to bed and early to rise makes a man healthy, wealthy, and wise.”
However, “early to bed” is not always an option for teenagers. The average teen ends up falling asleep around 11 p.m., and many middle schools start between about 8:00 to 8:30 in the morning.
This lack of sleep can be extremely harmful to teens health, which leads to the question: Should school start later in the day?
Not enough sleep as a teen can lead to decreased brainpower and mood disorders such as depression, risk-taking, and suicidal thoughts. You might be wondering: Can’t students go to bed earlier? In response to that, it has been proven that teens stay awake longer for biological reasons, and simply going to bed earlier doesn’t make them any less tired in the morning. Lastly, not only can lack of sleep make middle-schoolers feel bad, but it can also threaten their health with side effects of increased risks of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. This is why school start times would have a very strong impact on teens’ health and education.
Isn’t school supposed to inspire us to be healthy? In this case, it has the opposite effect on us. Many schools start at around 8:15 in the morning. In order to get to school on time, the average student needs to wake up at around 6:30 in the morning if they want to have enough time to brush teeth, pack, and get to school without being late to class. As if that wasn’t enough, the average teen ends up getting to bed at around 11 p.m. In this scenario, a student would get only seven and a half hours of sleep, when they really should be getting, according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital, nine or ten. This lack of sleep has negative effects on teens. According to the National Sleep Foundation (NSF), not getting enough sleep at night can lead to many extreme disorders and illnesses. One of them, for example, is decreased brain power. Kids cannot learn without anything to learn with. When kids are tired at school, they don’t focus, and will either just fall asleep in the middle of class or not pay attention to anything that the teacher is saying. They also say that lack of sleep can lead to mood disorders such as depression, higher chance of risk-taking, and suicidal thoughts. If we want to grow up and be successful in our future, then we have to get a good nights rest–every night. The only way for this to happen is for school to start later in the day.
Secondly, you might be wondering: “Can’t teens just go to bed earlier, and get a lot more sleep that way instead?” Well, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), “this is biologically infeasible for most teens.” As scientists have explained, “students cannot force themselves to fall asleep at a time early enough to get an adequate nights rest. Because melatonin (a hormone that helps your body replenish itself while you are sleeping) continues to build up until 8:00 in the morning, simply going to bed earlier doesn’t necessarily make teens any less tired during school. In order for us to become less sleepy during the day, we need to be able to sleep later into the morning, meaning school needs to be pushed later into the day.
Our health is vital to our education, and future careers. Sometimes, however, school can get in the way of this. Many schools start to early in the morning, not allowing our growing bodies much time to rest. There are many negative results because of this, such as decreased brain power, and mood disorders like depression, risk-taking, and suicidal thoughts. And although it might seem easier for teens to just go to bed earlier, it has been scientifically proven that students stay awake longer for biological reasons, and simply going to bed earlier doesn’t make teens any less tired in the morning. Lastly, not only does this lack of sleep make teens feel bad, but it can also threaten their health with an increased risk of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. So, I am going to ask you one question. What is more important: having an increased risk of exposing teens to depression, obesity, and disease, or adjusting school start times by one hour? I’ll let you decide.