Early school start time ruins students’ grades

Willow Vaughn, Reporter

The sun may not be up at 6 a.m., but students, teachers, and parents are already preparing at that time for another early morning, just like the last.

The starting time of school is the dread of many students and teachers alike and can even be harmful to students. We all have a circadian rhythm, which is more commonly known as an “internal clock”, that tells our bodies things like when to eat, sleep, and wake up. Circadian rhythms are the reason we have an average time for falling asleep and waking up when it’s not a school day, that is – so the school day should be moved back at least half an hour so students can get more sleep.

Anne Wheaton, an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), worked on a 2011-2012 study on teen sleep habits. The study concluded that an 8a.m. school start time is too early because teens’ inner clocks “make it hard to sleep before 10:30 or 11 p.m.”(“Survey Finds U.S. Schools Start ‘To Early’’ on the Science News for Students website). Wheaton said that an early start time and naturally late bedtime “slices into” the 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep teens need to be healthy. The school starting time makes it very hard for students to get enough sleep because teens’ circadian rhythms make it hard for them to wake up early.

NBC’s article quoted the CDC’s study, saying “In puberty, biological rhythms commonly shift so that adolescents become sleepy later at night and need to sleep later in the morning.” This shift in their sleep habits makes it incredibly difficult to fully wake themselves up early in the morning or go to bed in time to get the required nine hours of sleep they need to function properly.

There are consequences to not getting enough sleep besides a tired mind in the morning. The NBC news article quoted the CDC’s study: “Adolescents who do not get enough sleep are more likely to be overweight,” not engage in daily physical activity,” [and] suffer from depressive symptoms.” A lack of sleep can cause several negative symptoms in teenagers that could cause them sufferin.

Lack of sleep can also cause students to turn to “unhealthy behaviors, like drinking, smoking, and using drugs.” Without the right amount of sleep, teenagers may make the decision to use risky substances o make themselves feel better, though they maybe wouldn’t have made that choice if they aren’t exhausted to the point of needing an outside stimulus.

Of course, there may be some problems with the plan to start school later, such as school activities being later, which would cause competition for the fields/gyms and possible cancellations, less work hours, and a routine altered from the current set one.

But the National Sleep Foundation claims that schools actually found there was increased participation and coordination. The practices were moved and the communities adapted, and it had an improved pay off.

All in all, if school starts later, students will be both happier and healthier.