Column: Later start times beneficial to student well-being


Cassie Navrkal

Sophomore Douglas Alvarado falls asleep while reading through the advanced mechanic book. When schools have delayed the start of the school day, communities have seen reduced tardiness and sleeping in class, as well as improved attendance, graduation rates, and standardized test scores.

Cassie Navrkal

You wake up every morning to get to school. You are always tired and dozing off while you’re in class. It’s the typical high school life. Now, what if we started school later and just went a little later in the afternoon? I think this would be beneficial to students and their learning abilities.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens face a widespread chronic health problem: sleep deprivation. Research shows that sleep is a necessity to good health just like eating well or exercising. High school students are those who are least likely to get enough sleep. They need, on average, about nine hours but typically average only about seven hours.

The start of this problem includes poor sleeping habits that don’t allow for quality sleep as well as hectic schedules with afterschool activities and jobs, homework hours, and family schedules. It’s a clash between society’s demands.

Being at school for most of the day is nothing different for teens, but their learning may suffer with the early start times. Sleep deprivation impairs teens’ ability to be alert, pay attention, solve problems, cope with stress, and retain information. This can cause emotional and behavioral problems such as irritability, depression, poor impulse control, violence, and low overall performance.

A study by Dr. Paul Kelley, Clinical Research Associate at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute at Oxford University, stated that children around the age of 10 have a biological wake up time around 6:30 a.m., so the original school time is beneficial for them. However, the biological wake up time for 16 to 18 year old students is between 8 and 9 a.m. Because of this, it would be more sensible to start classes around 10 a.m.

As research shows that starting school at a later time could be beneficial, a wide variety of people such as parents, teachers, principals, and many more would have to approve. It is a big deal to change a schedule and to extend the day to get out later. The change is seen as a community as well as an individual topic. The people affected would need to have their views heard and acknowledged so that discussions can move forward with the idea.

As I think about it, I would agree to say that the issues early start times cause are real problems. Students seem to fall asleep during classes, and changing the times to where they can get a little more sleep could be beneficial. An argument could be that teens are just going to stay up later, but that’s not the case for everyone. I think schools should think about the option of later start times.