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Only 15% of teens get the recommended eight and a half hours of sleep a night.

That

means that approximately 85% of teenagers are sleep deprived. Does the time that school

starts have anything to do with this? There is a high debate among parents, teachers,

students, and doctors on whether schools should start later. In 2014 the American Academy

of Pediatricians sent out a statement encouraging schools and school districts to start

schools no earlier than 8:30. Their claim is that students need about 8 hours of sleep a

night. When school starts before 8:30, students are more likely to miss out on sleep that is

important to their well-being. High schools should start later so that teenagers can get the

sleep needed to learn properly, have good mental and physical health, and better cope with

the stresses of everyday life.

Lack of sleep greatly affects the way that teenagers learn. Studies have shown that

middle and high school students with adequate amounts of sleep, 8-10 hours, have better

test scores (Kqed.org). First, lack of sleep affects memory and specifically the way memories

are consolidated (Web MD). Consolidation means the memory becomes stable in the

brain (Web MD). This is a very important in the learning process. By not having enough

sleep, students wont be able to internalize the information that they are given. This can and

does lead to lower test scores and failing classes. Lack of sleep affects attention span. This is

also important to learning. If students cannot focus on what is being taught, they cannot

pass tests and quizzes. At least 28% of students fall asleep in class (KQED). This is yet

another way students are not paying attention in class. Lack of sleep contributes to lower

test scores and academic success.

The amount of sleep an adolescent gets greatly affects their physical and mental

health. During puberty, teenagers Circadian rhythm changes. This rhythm is what

determines when we sleep and when we wake up along with other things. Teenagers around

thirteen years of age go through a shift in this rhythm. They start to feel tired around 11:00

PM and wake up around 8:00 AM. With most schools starting between seven and seven

thirty, teenagers interrupt their sleep cycle to wake up in time to get ready for school.

Without going into too much scientific detail, interrupting these cycles can cause a hormone
imbalance that causes the person to want to eat more and inhibits them from feeling full.

This can cause overeating and weight gain (Web MD). There is also a link between lack of

sleep and depression. A disruption in the circadian rhythm along with other stressors causes

insomnia. While this can cause lots of problems, insomnia is directly linked to depression. It

is already easy to get depressed in high school. Sleep can also affect stress. By getting

adequate sleep many peoples stress levels go down considerably. Sleep is essential to being

healthy.

There are many advantages to starting school later. Many adults fear that there are

too many possible cons to starting school later. A common fear is that students wont have

time for after school activities. There are ways to adjust scheduling to keep school ending at

the same time which can prevent this fear. If, however, school must run longer in the

evening there are still positive affects to look at. Because students have had more sleep,

their performance levels increase (sleep.org). After school jobs have not been affected

either. Most employers have not seen a change based on schools starting later. It is also

recommended that students dont work more than 15 hours a week. (Sleep.org). By starting

school later, it will help keep students from overworking themselves. Another fear is that to

keep bus schedules, school districts will be forced to have elementary schools start earlier.

Elementary aged students circadian rhythm is earlier than adolescent aged kids. This

means that they will naturally wake up earlier. There have been no signs of a negative

impact on young students (Sleep Foundation). Another major fear that parents have is

getting their student to school. With later start times, parent will have to bring their students

to school earlier. School districts will most likely be able to provide buses for students. There

is also carpooling, walking, and public transit. Parents leave for work around 8 AM. This

would allow them to drop their children off at school on their way to work. By informing

parents and communities about the pros to having school start later, 70% of parents

changed their minds about school starting later. (National Sleep Foundation). It is important

to carefully weigh the advantages and disadvantages of starting school later. In the end,

there are more advantages than disadvantages to starting school later.


Sleep is important for your health. It is important for your mind and how you learn.

Because adolescents need sleep to grow and maintain a healthy lifestyle, it is important

they get the 8 to 9 hours of recommended sleep per night. By starting school later, it will be

easier for these students to get the sleep they need to stay focused and have better recall

memory, and to maintain their physical and mental health. Although there are many

debates on this, starting school later will help students in all aspects of their lives.

"Early School Start Times." Sleep.Org. National Sleep Foundation, 17. Web. 13 Apr.
2017.

"Eight Major Obstacles to Delaying School Start Times." National Sleep Foundation.

National Sleep Foundation, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Sciences, California Academy of. "Should Schools Start Later to Improve Academic

Performance?" KQED Learning. KQED, 2 Sept. 2016. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

Shute, Nancy. "Many Parents Aren't Sold On Later School Start Times For Teens." NPR.

NPR, 17 Feb. 2015. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.


"Sleep in Adolescents (13-18 Years)." Sleep in Adolescents :: Nationwide Children's

Hospital. Nationwide Children's Hospital, n.d. Web. 13 Apr. 2017.

"Sleep Deprivation and Memory Loss." WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 09 May 2017.