Does School Start Too Early?

Benefits of later start times in schools.

Bella Opdyke, Staff

Every day, students go to school sleep deprived. They are kept up by hours of homework and are forced to wake up early in order to get to school on time. The amount of sleep a child gets can deeply impact many things in a child’s life, which is why school should start later in the day.

The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that kids from ages 13-18 should get about 8-10 hours of sleep every night. Teenagers who don’t get enough sleep each night are more likely to be overweight, not exercise as much, have more symptoms of depression, get bad grades, become more violent, and abuse things such as alcohol and drugs. Despite the these results, around 80% of schools start their before 8 am which leaves many students to go through their already challenging day, sleep deprived and do it all again the next day.

One might argue that kids should just fall to sleep earlier, but that is easier said than done. Not only are students kept up by their hours of homework, but several studies have shown that teens have a natural biological tendency to fall asleep later and want to sleep in.

Many people worry that a later start time would mean kids would be practicing for sports or rehearsing for plays much later into the day than they usually would. But this could easily be solved by holding practice/rehearsals before school or doing half before school and half after school, that way kids aren’t at school too much later.

One might argue that holding practice in the morning would defeat the purpose of bumping back the start time, but the difference between waking up early to go to practice and waking up early to go to school, is that students would get to choose whether or not they try out for a sport, whereas students are forced to go to school everyday. If a student really wants to do a sport, they will be willing to make the necessary sacrifices.

Later start times have several other benefits besides giving children more sleep. Later start times have also proved to raise student’s grades. Studies have shown that the more sleep a student gets, the higher their grades are. It has also been proven that the lowest performing students have benefited the most from later start times, with their grades going up the most.

Many people believe that changing start times would be confusing and expensive for people, when in reality, later start times could mean more money. A school in Ohio raised their start time and saw a 15% increase in attendance. Los Angeles has estimated that just a 1% raise in attendance could add up to around $40 million.