School Start Times Should be Adjusted to Accommodate Student Sleep Patterns

Grace Felder, Staff Reporter

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Hitting the snooze button is something that most people have done at least once in their lives to buy a few extra minutes before getting out of bed. Especially when you’re a teenager slammed with school, sports, and maybe even an after school job, getting enough sleep can seem like an impossible task.

Several Vancouver, WA high schools — Evergreen, Heritage, Mountain View and Union — all have one thing in common: These schools used to begin at 7:45, and now begin at 8:40.  I believe that more schools, including La Salle, should push back their start times to allow high schoolers to get some extra sleep in the morning.

The trade off of a later start time is a later release. Although the release time is pushed back, the benefits of a later start time far outweigh the negatives.

First of all, the reason the change was made in Vancouver was in the hopes of seeing an improvement in academic success.

“We’re trying to reach every student,” John Steach, the deputy superintendent of the Evergreen school district, stated. “This is one more way to reach that last 16.6% that we have struggled to get across that graduation threshold.”

Graduating high school is obviously an important step to future success, whether that’s going to college or getting a job. When students arrive to school tired, they cannot perform to the best of their ability. A study done by Kyla L. Wahlstrom, the director of the Center for Applied Research and Educational improvement at the University of Minnesota, found that when schools started at 8:35 or later, students’ grades in science, math, English and social studies all increased. As the research proves, schools that start later will see an improvement in academic success.

Do you think La Salle should push back the start time for classes on Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday?

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Another reason why schools should start later is to accommodate for the number of sleeping hours a teenager needs during an important time of growth.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, a teenager should be getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep every night. We’ve all heard the spiel of how many hours or sleep we should be getting, but even if we know the number, it’s not always possible to get the adequate amount of sleep in one night.

People may say, “Why don’t teens just go to bed earlier?” Well, that’s easier said than done. Not only do teenagers have a biological clock that makes it hard to fall asleep before 11 pm, but they also have to balance school and other activities. Students who have packed after school schedules can have a hard time getting homework done on time on top of other commitments, and the only way to do so is to stay up late at night.

Late night study sessions lead to sleep deprivation; this is especially the case when they happen two or three times a week. When students go to bed at midnight, and have to wake up at six to get ready for school, they are only getting six hours of sleep a night. That’s two hours less than the recommended amount, which can quickly add up as the school year passes. With a later start time, students would be given more time to sleep in in the morning which allows for more time to do homework late at night, without worrying about sacrificing hours of sleep.

There have been concerns surrounding the idea of starting school later. Some people argue that if schools start later, parents will not be able to bring their child to school. This may be the case, however there are ways to avoid this issue. The first solution is that you can find a carpool. Carpooling is a great way to meet new people and save gas money. If carpooling doesn’t work, another alternative is that students can either ride public transportation or the school bus.

Here at La Salle, I look forward to Wednesday and Friday mornings because we start school at 9:15. Getting ready for school on Wednesday and Friday mornings is completely different for me than getting ready on a Monday, Tuesday or Thursday morning. On Monday mornings I find myself feeling stressed and tired, but on Wednesday mornings I feel more refreshed and ready to start the day. More and more schools are beginning to make the switch to a later start time. Even if La Salle pushed back the 8:00 start time just thirty minutes to 8:30, it could make a huge difference in a high schooler’s life. This change would accommodate for the natural sleeping patterns of a teenager, and allow students to be able to succeed in school. Now, when Monday comes around, students wouldn’t have to worry about pushing the snooze button ten times before rolling out of bed.

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What do you think about school start times? Do you think La Salle should change its start time? Let us know in the comments below!

Creative Commons photo source: https://www.flickr.com/photos/-konayuki-/6353317965