If you walk into any high school on a Monday morning, you will see a dismal sight. Teenagers mill around, many fueled solely on coffee or a Kick-start, with fatigued looks on their faces. What does high school consist of? Yes, we read books and learn new words in different languages. However, high school is also made up of wondering whether your friend is simply resting her eyes or if you should wake her up before your teacher notices. High school is having conversations with your chemistry teacher about his favorite ways to wake up sleeping students. High school is students laying down in between practicing chord progressions in guitar class, hoping the teacher doesn’t notice. High school is your jaw dropping when you hear that someone actually got nine hours of sleep.
Why is it this way? There are several different factors. Early school start times force high students to wake up too early. Societal pressures also contributes to this dilemma because feel the pressure to look their best. After school, we go to sports practices, club meetings, and study for our tests. Reports must be written, and math problems completed. While trying to balance grades, a social life, sleep is often gets neglected.
It is scientifically shown that teenagers need at least nine and a half hours of sleep. Ask most teenagers if they get that much, and they will scoff and say, “yeah, right.” A poll of 35 students in high school proved this point. Out of all 35 students, zero had an average of nine or more hours of sleep per night. In fact, the average amount of sleep students got was less than six and a half hours. This means high school students are missing out on over three hours of sleep. Studies prove that lack of sleep leads to obesity, depression, car accidents, and a lower quality of life.
Our school starts promptly at 7:30 AM. Some students like to get to school early and get help from a teacher or socialize with their fellow peers. Assuming they get to school at 7:15 and it takes them an hour to get ready and get to school, they would have to wake up at 6:15 AM. This isn’t even taking in consideration before jazz band, choir, or swim practices. The problem is that teenagers biological clocks are set so it is difficult to fall asleep before eleven or twelve. A substantial amount of teens lay in bed for an hour or so before actually falling asleep. Due to this fact, teens rarely get enough sleep to be able to fully function and thrive.
Would allowing later start times help students in the long run? Probably. It has provided benefits in many other schools. Until then, many high schoolers will be stuck in a tired trance, awaiting the weekend where they can sleep in and make up their hours of sleep, until next week when they will just fall behind again.