Author: Emma De Cosmo Grade 8 student at West Island College in Montreal, Quebec
Despite all the warnings and studies, school is still starting earlier than it should be. More sleep improves health, academic performance and quality of life. Getting little amount of rest is common in high school and it is the biggest cause of several health risks including obesity, drinking, smoking, drug usage, as well as being a major factor in teenage depression.
The American Academy of Paediatrics recommends schools begin later than 8:30 a.m. in order to give students the appropriate amount of sleep, but most schools still start too early. Teenagers should get the sleep they need, so let’s give it to them!
According to the 2014 School Health Policies and Practices Study, 93% of high schools in the U.S. start before 8:30 a.m. Early starts cause numerous health problems like alcohol and drug abuse, heavy depression, safety issues and poor school performance.
Adolescents have to balance many demands, the biggest one being of course school. An early start and a lot of homework make it difficult for them to get the sleep they desperately need. Teenagers are faced with many things that compete for their time. After school sports, clubs and activities that students like participating in, as well as spending time with their friends, are only a few examples. With all these options, there just isn’t enough time for teens to do it all. They have to give something up and often enough, it’s sleep that is being dismissed.
Research also suggests, delaying the start of the school day can reduce automobile accidents caused by sleepy teen drivers. In a 2008 study, in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine, crash rates fell by 16.5% in the two years after a school district changed its start time by one hour, compared to the two previous years. Driving while drowsy is in fact a huge cause of automobile accidents.
Some people say school should begin earlier because it is better to have a longer day and more days off, but in fact they are wrong. True, beginning later may cause some issues, like leaving school later in the afternoons, but what if it didn’t? What if school could begin later and still end at the same time it did before?
School administrators should understand that schools must begin later in the morning because of the problems and risks accompanied by sleep deprivation. Adolescents spend a huge portion of each day in school, but they aren’t able to maximise their learning capacities due to the fact that sleep deprivation worsens their ability to be alert, cope with stress, pay attention and retain information. So let’s give teenagers what they really need, their sleep.