The question of ” whether the school time for middle and high school should start later” had been a major topic recently, since the California state lawmakers passed a bill that would require middle and high schools statewide to start school no earlier than 8:30 a.m. In my opinion, schools should start later and they should make sure their students are well rested and ready for a long day of learning. Even though starting school later would mean ending school later, it is still far more beneficial because teens may be more likely to get the recommended amount of sleep, boost their academic performances, keep the kids safe, and improved physical health.
To begin, starting school later will let the kids sleep more and also improve children’s overall health. As children grow up and move into adolescence, their sleep cycle change. They stay up later and wake up later naturally because the hormones in their bodies regulate their sleeping system. In several studies, it is proven that melatonin (the hormone) does not go away until around 8:00 a.m., making later school starts ideally. A research was done in an independent high school in Rhode Island where the school time was delayed to 8:30 AM. This research showed the percentage of students getting less than 7 hours of sleep decreased by 79.4%, and “those reporting at least 8 hours of sleep increased from 16.4% to 54.7%” (JAMA Network). By sleeping for at least 8 hours, teens’ depressed mood and exhaustion during the daytime would be significantly reduced. In addition, not having enough sleep can also lower their immune system and cause them to be sick. Although some kids still experience sleepiness, most of them found improvement in their mood and felt more energized.
Furthermore, lack of sleep increases the risk of diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Researchers found that sleep deprivation adds stress and pressure to the body. Also, students with early school start time are likely to skip breakfast. While skipping breakfast might not sound significant, studies have shown that skipping breakfast regularly are likely to struggle in their learning. This is simply because it is harder for teens to learn and absorb knowledge when they’re hungry. Additionally, some exhausted student reaches out for caffeine drinks, hoping to get a temporary boost. It is proven by the University of Zurich Children’s Hospital that having caffeine as adolescents will “reduce deep sleep and delay brain development” (Dr. Reto Huber, University of Zurich Children’s Hospital). Although some kids might be aware of the consequences of caffeine drinks, they are still drinking them because the teens are just too exhausted. Also, studies have shown that the amount of sleep time teens get have a really important impact on the teen vehicle crash rate. It is proven by the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine that the average car crash rate for teen drivers dropped 16.5% after a 1-hour delay in school start time. This is because most adolescents are lacking the minimum of sleeping time for their brain to function correctly in the daytime. As a result, they are likely to be drowsy while driving and which may, in turn, increase the chance of getting a car crash. Thus, starting school later no only can improve the students’ health, it can also likely to keep the teens safe.
Moreover, kids are likely to do better in their academic performances if the school start later. According to The Sleep Medicine, sleep quality and quantity are closely related to student learning capacity and academic performance. the research strongly suggests that “sleep loss is frequently associated with poor declarative and procedural learning in students” (Sleep Medicine, Elsevier). Studies have shown that students that have sleep at least eight hours every night are likely to get better grades. It will also decrease absenteeism and tardiness. However, only about 30 to 40 percent of middle and high school students are able to sleep for around eight hours. Not getting enough sleep reduces the ability to concentrate, slow down the reaction times, and increase distractibility. It is obvious that lack of sleep has a significant effect on academic performances. Even though some adolescent with not enough sleep can also do well in school, students with more sleep are a lot more likely to improve their academic performance.
If later school start time is that beneficial, then why aren’t all school fixing it? The answer to that is actually very complicated. Pushing the start time later would mean ending school later. Some argued that this can potentially effect on student’s extracurricular activities, however, the kids are more likely to concentrate on things that are the most important and use their time wisely. Ending school later could mean leaving less time for the students to study, but it also means that they must learn how to manage their time. For example, with less time to spend, teens will now use the time to do their homework than to hang out with their friends because of the time pressure they have. On the opposite side, leaving more time for the kids can simply distract them from studying.
Starting later in the morning will improve student performance in school. Also, a later start time is better for teens’ biological clock. In addition, it can decrease obesity and other health problems often correlated with the deficient amount of sleep. Lastly, starting school later will allow student drivers to be more careful, decreasing the number of accidents involving “drowsy driving” and early morning car crashes. Even though some people believe starting school later would cause problems with sports schedules and extracurricular activities, the truth is, having these events a little later has no significant impact on student participation. Therefore starting school later is necessary and should be enforced worldwide.