The sun rises over Fruita as students make their way to school

Campbell Atkins

Does School Start Too Early?

December 3, 2018

It’s 7:25 AM and the final bell is just as annoying as your alarm clock. How many hours of sleep did you get last night? Are you ready to do math? How about analyze a poem? Did you finish your homework last night? Have you studied for your chemistry test today? Don’t forget about the quiz in Science and practice tonight at 5.

As a student, after a night full of homework and practice, the last thing I want to do is wake up at 5 AM and begin another 8 hour day at school. I believe that it is our responsibility as students to present the district with the impacts of the demanding school hours, and the repercussion that lack of sleep has on our bodies at such a detrimental age.

According to a study performed by School Health Policies and Practices, 93% of high schools and 83% of middle schools start the day before 8:30. Now you may be wondering, why is that bad? It is scientifically proven that teenagers ages 13 to 18 years of age need between 8.5 and 9.5 hours of sleep each night. The dilemma beings when that becomes nearly impossible due to hours of homework and other after school activities. If the school day started even an hour later, I know that personally it would allow me to accomplish more school work, and get more sleep without having to feel the guilt of choosing one over the other.

In addition, as students I feel like it would allow us to function better throughout the day, and be capable of retaining and understanding more complicated concepts in the classroom.

Russell Foster, professor of Circadian Neurosciences, and Director of the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute says that “Sleep loss is associated with brief mental lapses in attention during simple tasks.” Foster also adds that “Tiredness and fatigue tend to diminish motivation, particularly for tasks perceived as boring or tedious.” And let’s all be honest here, half of the work we do here is tedious, and the other half is boring. Therefore adding to my point yet again, that if we, as students, could get more sleep each night it would allow us to approach our work through fresh eyes, and be able to give full mental motivation to the tasks we face on a daily basis inside, and even outside the classroom as well. When I asked Erica Skillicorn, Junior here at Fruita Monument High School, speaks out about her side. “School starts so early, and it’s so hard for me to get up, get ready, let alone trying to stay focused and motivated throughout the day. This would definitely not be the case if school started later. It’s just too early!” Skillicorn laughs.

However, the other side to this is what time would we get out of school if we started later? What about sports practices and other after school activities? Work shifts, and buses? These would all be things we would have to take into consideration. Funding would shift, and many things would change but if you ask me, I think it would be worth it if it would improve our moods, performance, and mental capacity during the school day.

At the end of the day, I think it is important to highlight the impacts that a lack of sleep takes on us as students. Although there is much to consider, the first step of change is the acknowledgment of the problem itself.

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