Everyday about 89,599 students go to high school, and spend about 900 to 1,000 hours in school. On average, High schools in the United States start at the time of 7:20 AM if they are in 7 or 8 period schedules. This early start times can leave students sluggish and nodding off in the mornings. In fact of those 90 thousand students about 20% of students fall asleep in class everyday. Sleep is food for the brain, and without it, its results can make you preform poorly, have slower than usual learning, and even health problems.Because of these early starting periods, students brains ,scientifically, are not fully prepared and ready to analyze material. Also with these early start times students do not get the maximum time to sleep allowing for there brains and body, time to prepare for the next day of learning.
The proposal to push the start time of school, would help with cognitive thinking and academic advancement of students. Students could have better academic performance, learn easier, and would help their physical and mental health if high school starting time could be delayed. Schools should start at a later time because it could help improve academic performance in students.Although High schools in the U.S start at around the time of 7:20 AM “the adolescent brain does not actually wake up until about 8:00 AM” according to neurological scientist, Kayla Wahlstrom.
Students who are being tested during their first block or period do not have their full brain function of the first 40 minutes of their class. This can lead to a drop in grades in the classes in the beginning of the day because students are not alert and up to their full potential. The first two classes in the morning students have been shown to struggle in memory and learning because of the early times that they start school. Sleep is necessary for higher cortical function, especially multitasking, which is used often in school. Teenagers that get an insignificant amount of rest tend to have lower grades compared to their peers who get the optimal amount of sleep, have a 80 percent higher chance of receiving A’s and B’s. In a study of two high schools both with 1,000 or more students decided to make their start times 8:30 AM, which is 65 minutes delayed of the usual time. After a full year of this study the schools came to the findings that there was a 53% drop in the number of failing grades. Also with that, students that were suspended for disciplinary reasons dropped from 166 to 109.
With only 65 minutes delayed in these high school schedules there were academic improvement from more than half of the student population. Being aware of this change, if more schools adopted this alteration in the school schedule there could possibly be a larger improvement of academics in the United States.This modification of the starting times in high schools could also help students quality of learning. The amount and quality of sleep have a large impact on how the brain learns and memorizes information. A adolescent brain needs “about 9 to 10 hours of sleep” to be completely rested according to Nationwide Children’s Pediatrics. Also when you are an adolescent, between the ages of 13-18, it is natural for the average teen to not fall asleep before 11:00 PM.
With the times that students start school and go to sleep, shows that generally students get between 7 and 7 1/2 hours of sleep, which is two to three half hours less than recommended. A sleep deprived student can not focus their attention well and consequently can not learn productively. This also contributes to why everyday about a quarter of students fall asleep in class, 22% fall asleep during homework, and 14% of students over sleep and are late to school. Sleep itself has a vital role in memory, which is needed for learning new information. While sleep is taking place, the brain separates long term from short term memory allowing things the brain deems important to stay longer.
When the brain is not granted enough time for the action to take place, and it is sleep deprived the brain stores every thing into short term memory and is forgotten shortly. According to Alice G. Walton, Doctor of behavioral neuroscience, a study of students who were scheduled 9 hours of sleep every day for a month and then changed to 7 hours of sleep, ” the loss of 2 hours of sleep per night for 14 days left participants with poorer performance on certain neurobehavioral tasks that involved attention and short term memory”. With these results , if the starting time of high schools were delayed students would come with there brains wholly prepared to learn and memorize new information taught to them. Along with the possibly of better grades and higher learning, lastly delaying starting times of schools would help with the physical and mental health of students.
Sleep plays a very important role in physical health, especially with teens. Sleep is vital to our bodies just like good food, fresh air, and clean water. According to the Valley Sleep Center “sleep deprivation impacts our metabolism and how our body digest types of food” in conclusion can lead to weight gain, and “lack of sleep can increase the risk of obesity and developing diabetes.” Sleep can also effect the immune system in the body, altering how it functions. It is shown that this change if continued over time, by not getting enough sleep can weaken the immune system and increase the chances of getting different diseases.
Teenagers need more sleep because their body and minds are growing daily and developing at a rapid pace. Adolescents who do not get an adequate amount sleep have been more likely to suffer from depression and anxiety. Minimal levels of sleep deprivation over a period of time can result in someone being less enthusiastic, more irritable or even regular symptoms of depression such as feeling sad or always empty. The link between sleep and mood changes have been researched for an extended period of time and it is proven that the smallest lack of sleep can lead to emotional changes. For instance according to the national sleep foundation “obstructive sleep apnea, a condition in which a person wakes frequently through the night, is linked through depression”. In the study of approximately 19,000 people, those that had a chronic sleep problem or a lack sleep daily were 5 times more likely to stuffer from depression.
With the time that students go to sleep on regular nights without much homework, extra circular activities, and possibly even jobs, they still don’t get the suggested amount of sleep for their age. If school start time could be delayed it would make students physically healthier by strengthening their immune system and lessen there chance of physical and mental health problems.