Students aren’t awake as early as schools want them to be
By Abigail Allen
WCHS and high schools across the country start class as early as possible to maximize time to learn, which is great for lesson plans, but not so much for the students’ health and even grades.
Early start times have many effects on students’ lives, some positive, but most negative. Not only are students not getting the most out of their morning classes, but their health and performance abilities are also affected. WCHS should at least start at 8:30 a.m., if not later, for the benefit of the students’ well-being.
Students cannot fully wake up as early as schools want them to, and it affects their grades negatively. The brain cannot contain information taught in class as efficiently if it’s not energized for the task.
Studies at nationwidechildrens.org, show that the adolescent brain doesn’t wake up for functioning until later, due to a “shift in sleep schedule. After puberty, there is a biological shift in an adolescent’s internal clock of about two hours, meaning that a teenager who used to fall asleep at 9:00 p.m. will now not be able to fall asleep until 11:00 p.m. It also means waking two hours later in the morning,” so the brain isn’t fully awake until a few hours later than school start times. If school were to start later, the brain would have more time to wake up before trying to graph parabolas, and students’ overall performance would improve.
According to a study conducted at Harvard University, a person who is sleep-deprived has much more trouble focusing attention on certain tasks, and according to the experiment, “sleep itself has a role in the consolidation of memory, which is essential for learning new information.”
Also, according to schoolstartlater.net, “a study at the US Air Force Academy showed first-year students starting classes after 8 a.m. performed better not only in their first classes but throughout the entire day.”
Students who don’t get enough sleep, because of having to wake up so early, after staying up so late to get homework done along with extracurricular responsibilities, are deprived of the energy they need to get through the day, and pushing themselves to keep going without the energy to isn’t healthy.
Studies over the lack of sleep and it’s effect on physical and mental health, conducted at Harvard University, have found numerous possibly harmful effects of lack of sleep. Most were found to be usually associated with “increased stress, such as increased blood pressure, impaired control of blood glucose, and increased inflammation.”
These issues may seem minor now, but, especially added with the psychological stresses of high school, these symptoms can lead to severe health problems, such as heart problems and the inability to fight off minor infections that can lead to larger-scale diseases.
Some argue that students need more time to learn, so getting school started earlier maximizes learning potential, and changing school schedules messes up routines, but there are many reasons why it may be worth the adjustment to start school later. While opening school earlier does maximize the time the students spend at school, it’s not worth the extra time and effort when most students aren’t fully awake in the first few class periods and they don’t retain much information anyway.
If the school wants more time to spend on lessons, then they could have school end later. The same amount of time is given to students to learn, while keeping their sleep schedules organized. As for after school activities and homework, amounts and times can and should be adjusted accordingly, as students’ health should be the first thing on people’s minds when planning these things.
Sure, it may be more convenient to have school start earlier, but it doesn’t help when students do not retain anything they learn. Schools are put into place for children’s advantage, so why put them at a disadvantage health wise, safety-wise, and even learning-wise?
School starting earlier causes more problems than solutions
By Noah Cagle
High schools around the nation have been experimenting with changing the start times to later, about 8:30 a.m. This kind of changing is not necessary.
Starting at 7:40 a.m. enables students to have time after school to work, hold a social life, do extracurriculars and homework. Earlier start times also teach routine to teenagers, as many jobs also require an early start time. Students are also able to ride to school with their parents in the morning to school which is convenient and makes it less likely for a student to be tardy.
If we change school start times, we’d have to change the school end times.
Starting school at 7:40 a.m. and ending at 2:50 p.m. gives students a good eight hours and 20 minutes (assuming that the typical high school student goes to sleep at 10 p.m.) to fulfill the aspects of their lives such as jobs and after school activities. That time can also be used by students to do homework and hold a social life, as well as keep up with home responsibilities and relationships.
Students starting earlier also teaches them how to follow a routine. Students getting up early and going to school is able to teach students routine and how to stick to one. Most jobs start earlier in the morning to accommodate for when everybody begins their day. Teenagers need to have the ability to force themselves out of bed every morning and manage their time in order to be at school and in class on time. This helps students prepare for when they join the workforce and after all, that is what high school is ultimately setting them up for.
When students start school earlier in the morning, they wake up with their parents, who are likely getting ready to leave as well. If a student misses the bus and needs a ride to school, they can ride to school with their parent as they leave to go to work in the morning.
Although this doesn’t apply for all students, this is an incredible advantage for those applicable teenagers and makes it easier for those students who need to be at school on time.
Many will argue that students are unable to get enough sleep with the current high school start times. Although that is arguable, the American Association of Sleep Medicine recommends that adolescents get eight to 10 hours of sleep every night in order to excel in their academic work. If a student wakes up at 6 a.m., going to sleep at 10 p.m. should supply a student with a sufficient eight hours of sleep at night. Of course everybody needs to get enough sleep at night, but teenagers can easily change the amount of sleep they get by changing the time that they go to sleep. The problem is that teenagers are extremely stubborn. If school started later, teenagers would just go to bed later.
High schools do not need to change their start times. Starting at 7:40 a.m. gives students enough time to get enough sleep at night, while also enabling them to hold a job or play sports, and also keep up with homework. Teenagers need to have extra time after school to keep up with daily responsibilities and have a social life. Students also need to be trained to wake up early so that they can learn to get to their job on time in the future.
Without learning these skills, students won’t be used to waking up early for work in the future when they actually need to be up early for work. Students need to get enough sleep at night, but they’re too stubborn to do it. Having a fixed and calculated sleeping schedule with a morning routine is a simple answer to this problem.