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Benefits of Starting School Later

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Whether you are a parent of a teenager, or are a teen yourself you have most likely struggled with getting your kid up for school or have found yourself falling asleep in class. Many if not most high school and elementary school students struggle to get out of bed in the morning for school. This has sparked a discussion on whether school times should be pushed later. Some people have a theory that teens are just lazy and don’t want to get up but it has nothing to do with laziness or lack of ambition. Adolescents naturally stay up later and get up later because of how their bodies release melatonin, a hormone that regulates sleep. Several studies show that teens cannot get out of this melatonin-induced sleep mode until at least 8:00 a.m. making later school start times desirable. Having early school start times has many drawbacks. Teenagers with early start times are put more at risk for mental health issues than kids that start later. The physical well being of these students have been put at risk as well. Lastly the academic performance of these kids is worse than those who have late start times. The academic performance of these children are declining all because of something they can’t control. This problem will increasingly get worse in the long run for the teens if we don’t stop it soon enough.

Mental health is at the top of the list for concerns. Teenagers with school starting times before 8:30 a.m. may be at risk of certain health problems due to compromised sleep quality, according to a recent URMC study. Specifically in teenagers depression, anxiety and fatigue are the most common psychological outcomes of obtaining less sleep. Teens are recommended 8-9 hours of sleep per night. Although, there are a number of external factors that affect this including homework, extracurricular activities, after school jobs, technology use and having to be up at early hours of the morning. These factors have lessened sleep quality and length. A 2014 survey of 9,089 high school students found that teens reporting less than 8 hours of sleep had significantly more symptoms of depression than their peers getting more than 8 hours. Many adolescents that suffer from depression may also suffer from things like insomnia (problems falling asleep) or hypersomnia (excessive sleepiness during the day). Some might be asking for solutions to these problems. The only answers are eliminating all those external factors that stop teens from going to bed early. The other option is changing school start times till after 8:30 a.m. Doing this will allow students to get the right amount of sleep and will decrease the likelihood of them developing mental illnesses.

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Early school start times do not just affect mental ability. They also have an impact on physical health. Sleep deprivation increases the risk for diabetes, obesity and high blood pressure. Many research studies have linked obesity to sleep deprivation in children and adults. A lack of sleep can disrupt the balance of hormones that control appetite. Sleep deprivation can also decrease motivation and energy, which reduces a teen’s motivation to exercise. Researchers believe that a lack of sleep alters hormone levels and puts additional stress on the body. Early school start times may contribute to diabetes and obesity in several ways. When teens get up very early for school and do not go to bed until late at night, they may eat more than they would if they got an adequate amount of sleep. Additionally, tired students may reach for foods high in sugar or caffeine, hoping that they will get a temporary boost. This puts them at risk for serious health problems.

It is clear that sleep deprivation has a significant effect on academic performance. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine says that a lack of sleep impacts performance by reducing concentration, creating attention deficits, increasing distractibility, impairing decision-making skills and causing forgetfulness. AASM also says that sleep-deprived people are more prone to errors. These effects can have a serious impact on test scores and on the grades students receive on class projects and papers. Trying to educate teenagers too early in the morning is now good. Even if lectures and activities are stimulating, the urge to sleep still reduces alertness and understanding. In 1998, Amy Wolfson and Mary Carskadon surveyed more than 3,000 high school students. They found that those who reported poor grades (C, D or F) reported getting 25 fewer minutes of sleep than the students who reported getting A’s and B’s. The poor performers also went to bed approximately 40 minutes later than the students who reported getting good grades. When compared with students attending schools with earlier start times, the students reported getting higher grades. They also had fewer depressive feelings, got more sleep on school nights and had less daytime sleepiness.

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Benefits of Starting School Later. (2022, August 25). Edubirdie. Retrieved February 23, 2024, from
“Benefits of Starting School Later.” Edubirdie, 25 Aug. 2022,
Benefits of Starting School Later. [online]. Available at: <> [Accessed 23 Feb. 2024].
Benefits of Starting School Later [Internet]. Edubirdie. 2022 Aug 25 [cited 2024 Feb 23]. Available from:
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