The Thunderbeat

Early school times detrimental to students

Graphic By Gauret Stearns

Graphic By Gauret Stearns

Nathan Hawkins, Broadcast Manager

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It’s past midnight. You’re putting the finishing touches on your English essay, trying to make it the best it can possibly be. You finally hit the sack when you’re finished. Five hours later, you wake up, and prep for an eight hour school day.

A schedule such as this is all too common for high school students. Managing school, homework, a social life, and sleep isn’t an easy task that teenagers are burdened with. The erratic sleep schedule that teenagers have is an unhealthy yet relevant issue among teens, as as in 2013 almost half of the teens in the United States were affected negatively by a lack of sleep. Although sleep deprivation may never go away entirely for students, the starting point in order to increase the amount of sleep teenagers get is simple: school starting times.

At Bellevue West, school starts at 7:50 A.M., with the first bell being at 7:45. This start time is already 13 minutes earlier than the average start time around the United States. However, even the average start time for schools everywhere is far earlier than what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend. According to the CDC, schools should have a start time of no earlier than 8:30 to accommodate the general need for students to get 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep every night. That’s 27 minutes past the national average, and 40 minutes past the start time at Bellevue West.

That explains why students catch up on their sleep during class time.

Being tired isn’t the only consequence of sleep deprivation, however. A study from Harvard University was conducted in order to find other serious consequences of not getting enough sleep. Through their research, it was found that sleep deprivation can correlate to obesity, heart disease, mood disorders, and it can even decrease life expectancy.

So if you think about it, high school is literally killing me.

Although that might be an exaggeration, it is clear that high school students could live a healthier lifestyle if they could get more sleep.

One of the most prominent figures in sleep science study discovered something that almost contradicts the purpose of beginning school at earlier times. In the 1930’s Nathaniel Kleitman discovered that even well-rested people perform worse in their performances at earlier hours of the day and later hours of the night. So even if students get enough sleep, the performance could still be worse earlier in the morning.

There are benefits for starting school early for some people, such as coaches, who have practice after school. It could also potentially some students who have many activities going on in the evening. Even then, it’d still be very possible to get around that, as around the country there are still many schools that begin at 8:30 and have a practice schedule around it.

The easy solution to improve mental well being and sleep deprivation in students is simple, and the district needs to address it. Begin school 40 minutes later. End school 40 minutes later. The positives outway the negatives.

Starting school at 8:30 won’t instantly cure insomnia and spike up grades, but for kids whose busy lives puts them in a position to be low on sleep, it’s a place to start.

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Early school times detrimental to students