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Should School Start Later Essay

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How much money you would pay to save the life of a loved one? How much to save the life of a friend? How much to save the life of someone in your school? How much to save someone you don’t even know? Keep these answers in mind. You are asleep for one-third of your entire life. Sleep is one of the most vital and necessary functions of our body. Getting the proper amount of sleep is so important to your health and for your body to recover from the day’s activities. Such a vital function is performed by all living creatures that inhabit the earth. However, humans are the only species of animal that purposely deprive themselves of sleep. 85% of teens don’t get the recommended amount of sleep on a night-to-night basis. School start times should be delayed in order to significantly benefit teen development, school function, and overall health/safety of teens.

It is extremely necessary that teens get between 8-10 hours of sleep on a regular basis. In teens, melatonin is released around 11 pm on average, which is an hour later than in adults. Melatonin helps your body know when it’s time to sleep and wake up. In theory, this means that the earliest a teen can fall asleep is 11 pm. Start times at Nyack are 7:30 am which would give us 8.5 hours of sleep if we went to bed at exactly 11 and slept until the first bell. Knowing this information, you can infer that the school isn’t giving us enough time to get our necessary sleep. Add hours of homework, sports, extracurriculars, and work to the mix and teens are anywhere from 1-5 hours sleep deprived on a daily basis. Now, just how big of a deal is sleep deprivation? Our bodies require long periods of sleep in order to restore and rejuvenate, grow muscle, repair tissue, and synthesize hormones. Sleep helps to fuel your brain and your body. Teens need more sleep because their bodies and minds are growing quickly. According to sleep professionals, “A lot of action takes place in teenage brains due to their developmental stage. There are major changes to thinking, emotions, behavior, and interpersonal relationships. Shifts in the balance between brain systems create a period where teens may take increased risks or engage in more reward seeking. Adding inadequate sleep time to the picture can cause many implications and alter the development process negatively” (Hall 1). The worst part of the situation is that it’s not even the teens’ fault they are sleep deprived. Total control over the issue lies solely in the hands of the school district. The school can blame video games, youtube, and netflix for the lost sleep all they want, but in reality, they’re not even giving us enough time to sleep in the first place.

The benefits of adequate sleep reach further than just teen development, it has been proven that later start times lead to better grades, better moods, and better focus among students. Schools across the country have experimented with delayed start times, and in almost all cases they saw a major improvement in grades as well as attendance. Hingham Public schools in Massachusetts moved their start times from 7:20 to 8 a.m. and saw improvements in academic performance and attendance. Nauset regional high moved back start times and saw “instantaneous results, according to the report, including fewer failing grades and suspensions.” A “school district in Washington state shifted start times” and reported that students were much “happier” (McNamara). The overwhelmingly positive results of delayed start times shouldn’t be a surprise. The science behind sleep and how important it is to our body says it all. Getting a good night of sleep benefits us during every aspect of our day. It especially affects our mood throughout the day. “The incidence of depression among teens significantly rises with less than nine hours of sleep. Around half of the teens who sleep four hours or less per night feel sad and hopeless, compared to just 19 percent of their well-rested peers” (Wahlstrom). Just this one adjustment of start times could significantly help those struggling with depression and other mental illnesses. “A recent review identified an increased risk for suicide, being overweight, high rates of injury, poor sustained attention and low school grades for teens sleeping less than eight hours” (Hall). It’s hard for a sleep-deprived person to focus their attention and learn. Sleep also affects learning by repeating patterns and information while you are asleep. This is vital to retaining information and memorizing.

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Despite the extremely improving grades and overall health of teens, the most important effect of sleep on teens is probably car safety. According to reports, “Most recently, car crash rates for teens in Jackson Hole, Wyoming in 2013 dropped by 70 percent in the first year the district adopted the start time” (Wahlstrom). When the seatbelt was first implemented in cars it reduced the risk of fatal injuries by 45%. It was considered revolutionary. Now we have a way to decrease car crashes altogether- not just fatal injuries- by 70%. What would this be considered?!? Sleep deprivation impairs your judgment and clarity. On average, drowsy driving kills around the same amount of people yearly as drunk driving. 17 hours without sleep has the same effects as being Impaired on the legally drunk scale (0.05% BAC). If most students are getting insufficient sleep that would mean the good majority are driving to school significantly impaired and at huge risk. Drunk driving deaths are always a tragedy but how about drowsy driving deaths caused by high school arrogance are even worse? The choice is out of our hands. Our delicate and precious lives are being risked by the school.

A common argument for changing school start times is the negative effect on sports schedules, extracurriculars, work, and increased transportation costs. The biggest concern by most districts is the cost, “a 2011 study by the Brookings institute estimated that delaying school start times would increase the transportation cost per student by about $1,950 for the duration of the school year” (School Start Times). The main argument against IMPROVING grades and SAVING kids’ lives is cost. Think back to the opening question, was any of your answers greater than $1,950, I would bet on it. It’s flabbergasting to me to even consider that someone would argue against improved grades and saving the lives of children, who are the future of this world. Sports practice is deemed extremely important to a teen’s athletic future. If the school’s start times change then practice might have to be shorter or later in order to make up for the lost time. This could negatively affect the teen’s future and add more stress to their life. However, this claim is irrelevant because in truth “Practice does not make perfect, practice with a night of sleep is what makes perfect because you come back the next day and you are 20-30% better in terms of skilled performance than where you were at the end of your practice session the day before.” – Matthew Walker. Depriving yourself of sleep in order to practice is actually more negative than not practicing at all.

I understand that even after reading this, the district probably won’t change the start times because frankly, they are scared of change. So I suggest that nyack moves their start time back half an hour to 8 a.m. (which is the national average for start times) and decrease homework to compensate for not moving back the full hour. Or the district makes the obvious choice and moves the start times back at least an hour. The science behind the move is there, the statistics are there, and the reasons are there. It’s not a hard choice at all. It’s not like Nyack will be the first school to have class on mars. Schools all across the country have already made the move and in almost every case benefitted. Did I also mention that low-income students saw the greatest improvements in attendance, and grades out of all of the students that were in schools that switched?

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Should School Start Later Essay. (2022, September 27). Edubirdie. Retrieved September 22, 2023, from
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