School vs. Sleep

How early school start times are negatively affecting teenagers.

By: Peyton Reed, Journalist

         Teenagers all around the country are not getting enough sleep. This has been occurring for the past couple of years. How do we stop this?

          On average, teens need 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Due to a later circadian rhythm, the average teen cannot fall asleep before 11:00 pm, with many staying up later. Since the average high school start time is 8:00 am, an average teenager would get nine hours of sleep which is good. However, nobody can get ready for school in one minute. In fact, most teenagers take about an hour to get ready if they want to keep good hygiene. So, they actually get about eight hours of sleep. Also, it takes time to get to school whether it be by bus or other means of transportation. This causes teenagers to get less than eight hours of sleep. This is not okay.

The benefits of later school start times include

  • Higher grades
  • Decreased tardiness
  • Increased attention
  • Reduced irritability
  • Reduced depression
  • Fewer disciplinary issues
  • Fewer traffic incidents
  • Less obesity
  • Less injuries

Because of early school start times, over 70% of high school students do not get enough sleep. Adolescents who do not get enough sleep have a higher chance of obesity, diabetes, and injuries. Later school start times would result in higher academic prowess, decreased tardiness, less falling asleep in class, reduced irritability, reduced depression symptoms and fewer disciplinary issues. A study showed that when a school’s start times were pushed back, the students experienced a 16.5% decrease in car crash rate. If we push back school start times, teenagers would get the sleep they need and be able to enjoy life less tired.

According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics, high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 am. This would allow for students to get the sleep they need so they can succeed in school and stay healthy.

Fortunately, other important people are doing something to help teens get more sleep. The Governor of California, Gavin Newson, has passed a mandate for later school start times. This makes California the first state to mandate later school start times. The mandate requires middle schools to start no earlier than 8:00 am and high schools to start no earlier than 8:30 am. The mandate will come into effect in the 2022 school year. If other states do this as well, teenagers all around the country will finally be able to get enough sleep.