Why School Starts Too Early

Why School Starts Too Early

Molly Thomas

The end of childhood may be increasingly difficult while teenagers try to juggle school, jobs, clubs, and sports all in addition to their social life. It’s no secret that American teens don’t get enough sleep. They constantly have to juggle school, sports, clubs, extracurriculars, and preparing for college. Many teenagers let this stress get to them, often leading to depression or anxiety because of how stress often has negative and possibly long lasting effects on one’s mood.

Even when teens are done with everything in their day, their bodies naturally push them to stay up later in the night and sleep in later in the morning, and it isn’t just because of their excessive use of technology. When going through puberty, teenagers sleeping patterns are often irregular than the average adult. If schools started later, it would positively impact students sleeping habits and overall health.

Schools across America start way too early, which potentially leads to students decreasing mental and physical health. Lack of sleep in teenagers leads to negative changes in mood, behavior, cognitive ability, academic and athletic performance.

Although depression affects 20% of American teenagers, only 30% of the depressed are being treated for it.  There are obviously many factors that may lead teens to depression: a struggling home life, problems in relationships or friendships, the struggle of time management or finally highschool itself. One treatment that is sometimes used for depression is responding to a person’s sleeping needs. When people get as much sleep that is required for them at a consistent rate, like getting up and going to bed at roughly the same time every day, it positively impacts their overall mood and even lessens or cures their depression at times.

Many teenagers, 10 in 15 in fact, suffer from symptoms of mental disorders, but don’t get treatment for it. Many teens don’t want to recognize their negative feelings as depression, and sometimes are even afraid or don’t want to ask for help when they to recognize them. It all goes back to the feeling of being overwhelmed, and teens may feel that their feelings of depression is just another thing to overwhelm them and the people around them.

Early school start times leads to loss of sleep, which essentially leads to a negative impact on behavior and cognitive ability. The more tired a person is, the less motivation and drive they will have to do even simple tasks in their life. It is a proven fact that a student who doesn’t get their required amount of sleep will do more poorly on a school assessment versus a student who met their sleep requirement well.

Not only do earlier start times negatively impact academic performance, but athletic performance as well. Athletes are the kind of people that need even more sleep and even more rest than the average person because of how intensely they exercise their body. Sports obviously take up a lot of their time and often they stay hours after school for practice, and when they compete, this can stretch late on to the night. Being a student athlete, they are required to try to squeeze their sports into their schedule along with their school load that they have already. Students and athletes require even more sleep than the average person.

The average middle/high school in America starts at 8:03 am versus where New Berlin West starts at 7:30 am. If we changed our start time to even a half hour later, student’s overall mood and attitude would improve. This could lead to improvements in academic and even athletic performance.