It’s early Monday morning, the sky is dark and thousands of local high schoolers begin to wake up for another start to a long school week.
They don’t feel relaxed, recharged or tranquil. They feel drowsy and exhausted. They yawn throughout the morning and drag themselves through the day.
The reason? They suffer from a lack of sleep. And according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 73% of high school students share these same experiences throughout their school day. In fact, 23% of high schoolers report sleeping just six hours a night. These numbers are alarming, and such lack of sleep can carry serious consequences. As the CDC notes, adolescents who don’t get the recommended eight to 10 hours of sleep are more likely to be overweight, depressed and perform poorly in school.
But there may be a solution to this dilemma: a later school start time for high schoolers. A change in start time might seem like a big deal to some people, and it may cause one to wonder about the effects it will have on after-school extracurriculars or school sports. However, this change would only delay the school start time by one hour, as organizations such as the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. The pros of later start times for high schools far outweigh the cons.
In 1998, researchers Amy Wolfson and Mary Carskadon surveyed more than 3,000 high school students. They found that those who got poor grades reported getting 25 fewer minutes of sleep than the students who got A's and B's.
Later start times are something every high school should consider. As more high schools make these start time changes, it’s exciting to imagine the academic and mental health benefits students will receive.
Jeffery Inskeep is in the ninth grade at Manheim Township High School.