School should start later



Have you ever looked around your first period class?

Chances are, most kids are either snoring or desperately trying to plow their eyes open. Teenagers are expected to socialize, participate in extracurriculars, ace tests and still have time to live a healthy lifestyle. With only 24 hours in a day, something has to be sacrificed in order to keep up with society’s demands. Oftentimes it’s sleep, but new research shows that a later start to the school day could end this drowsy epidemic.

A National Sleep Foundation poll found that 87 percent of high schoolers are getting less than the recommended eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep a night.

According to the National Sleep Foundation, teenagers release the sleep activating hormone, melatonin, after 11 p.m. This means teenagers often can’t fall asleep until late into the night. In order to be ready for school, 7 a.m. is the latest anyone could sleep in; but with only 6 hours of sleep, it’s physically impossible to be alert and ready to learn.

Symptoms from lack of sleep include: a case of the grumpies, bruised eyes, and uncoordinated movements. In other words, basically the composure of a regular Starbucks customer. According to NPR, many studies show an increased risk of obesity and depression in teenagers who lack sleep.

These signs of fatigue affect students’ academic performance. Researchers at the University of Minnesota, funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, studied eight high schools from three different states regarding their school’s start time. The schools were studied before and after they started the school day later. The results found students had better mental health, grades, standardized test scores, attendance and lower car crash rates when school started later.

The National Sleep Foundation also found that adults release melatonin before teenagers. This means average adults are cable of waking up at 7 a.m. and still receive a full night’s sleep. Adults can not relate to teenagers when it comes to sleep, which is sadly ironic since they determine the start of the school day. The only people who are advocating for students are doctors and scientists, but they are not members of the school board.

Schools have been fearful of making the change because of the cost and after school activities. According to the Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement, when schools in Kentucky and Minnesota changed their starting times for the elementary and high schools, there was no additional cost. After-school jobs and actives did not witness negative changes, and some districts reported better athletic performance.

Starting school an hour or two later could be the chance for a more friendly, alert and successful school. If you are a Bellevue Public Schools student who would like to see these changes, email school board members or even call. Until the importance of sleep in understood by all of society, students will continue to be victims of a restless night.

Kylie Fenger
Commentary Editor