5 more minutes

In today’s society, sleep deprivation has become more normalized in the schedules of teenage students, affecting more than just the bags under their eyes.


While walking the halls in BHS, one can often hear snippets of conversing students. Many of those conversations include comparisons of how little sleep many students get, so just what should the school consider changing in order to increase the motivation in students?

   Starting off simple, getting less sleep than what is recommended – which should be at least 8 to 10 hours – can negatively impact students in more ways than one. To begin with, many have poor academic performance. Not enough sleep leaves students’ minds fuzzy and unfocused, leading to a drop in grades. 

   According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, health risks that occur due to lack of sleep are the use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs. Other risks included are being overweight, symptoms of depression and lack of participation in daily physical activity. Risk-taking behaviors such as bullying and fighting also increase along with the risk of athletic injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

   A benefit to starting later is that students would have more time to eat breakfast and get ready in the morning. There is a reason that breakfast is referred to as the most important meal of the day. It replenishes the supply of glucose in one’s body, boosting energy levels and alertness while also providing other essential nutrients.

  In a study done by Sleep Foundation, schools that had a later start time had improved attendance and decreased tardiness at school. They also found that students had better grades, fewer occurrences of falling asleep in class, fewer disciplinary issues and a decline in car crashes. 

  Countless studies have shown that early school start times are associated with students getting less sleep, which is a problem that could be easily solved by moving back the start time. For most tests, it was said that schools should not start before 8:30 in the morning, however, most students said that they would rather start school at 9:00 in the morning.

Multiple studies have shown that children and adolescents feel tired later at night and wake up later in the morning, which is referred to as “phase delay.” This delay shifts the body’s internal clock back for up to 2 hours, therefore, the average teenager cannot fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. and would do best waking up at 8:00 in the morning, if not later. 

  However, with every “good” thing comes its drawbacks. To start off, this adjustment could create scheduling conflicts for both athletic and academic-related competitions against schools with separate start and end times. Another issue that could arise is having to do with childcare – some families rely on older students to pick up their younger siblings, which would become difficult if high schools dismiss later than elementary or middle schools. 

  Despite the drawbacks that come with moving the start time back, the multitude of benefits seems to overpower them. It is for that reason that schools should start later. It would accommodate for the sleep delay that teenagers have to face, allow for students to do better in school and give more time for students to eat breakfast and get ready in the morning. Of course, it is not that easy to just up and switch the entire schedule of the school day, which is why this would be something that could be looked at for future school years.