School Start Times
Welcome back to the Education Enlightenment! This week we are branching off of last week's topic of school hours and talking about the harms of early start hours for students.
A typical school day in America starts anywhere around 7:50 to 8:20 am (when we aren't in a pandemic). Seeing that students have to get ready (about 15 minutes on average), eat (about 10), potentially study/do homework (maybe around 20 minutes), and drive to school ( about 10 minutes for most kids), (bus riders usually have to get up even earlier). This makes the average wake up time is about 7:00 am (if you don't ride the bus).
As discussed in the last post, doctors recommend that teens get nine hours of sleep or at least 8 hours and 30 minutes, meaning that teens would have to go to bed around at most 10:00 pm. This doesn't seem like a problem until you look at the circadian rhythm of a teenager. Teenagers melatonin (the sleep hormone) is produced at a much later time than say, an adult. This means that most teenagers tend to go to bed around 11:00 pm or even later (Source 3). There is also the issues of homework and the need for free time as discussed in my previous post (read Here). Some students only opportunity for free time is in the night making going to sleep even harder since it seems like a waste of that precious time.
This sleep schedule creates a situation where students cannot get enough hours of sleep therefore creating problems in school performance, proper growth and development and overall health (Source 3). Changing this schedule and pushing back the start time of schools could be extremely beneficial to the growth of the next generation of our country.
For example, in Minneapolis schools changed their start times from 7:25 to 8:30am and studies showed that “teens got five or more extra hours of sleep per week, and attendance and enrollment rates went up, as did alertness.” and “ student-reported depression went down.” (Source 4). I personally believe this to be true as the Covid-19 pandemic has allowed me the chance of starting school at 11:45 am. This start time and school schedule has given me the time I need for myself and to get even more than enough sleep. I admit that I don't think I would be doing as well in my harder subjects if we were sticking to the normal school schedule. This just adds to the arguments that scientists have been making for quite some time now. It is time to push back the start of schools so we can push back the obstacles of life at our best.
Rubin, Rita, and A. Pawlowski. “How Much Sleep Do Teens Really Need?” TODAY.com, 8 Sept. 2016, www.today.com/health/how-much-sleep-do-teens-really-need-t102616.
Palmer, Kate. “The Morning Routine: 30% Spend over a Week in Getting Ready Each Year.” YouGov, YouGov, 10 July 2012, today.yougov.com/topics/lifestyle/articles-reports/2012/07/10/morning-routine-30-spend-over-week-getting-ready-e.
“Circadian Rhythm in Teenagers.” Sleep Disorders Advice & Help, 17 May 2012, sleepdisorders.dolyan.com/circadian-rhythm-in-teenagers/#:~:text=Circadian%20Rhythm%20Shift%20in%20Teenagers.%20The%20shift%20in,increases%20at%20night%2C%20compared%20to%20other%20age%20groups.
“Teens, School & Sleep: A Complex Relationship.” Sleep Foundation, 9 Jan. 2021, www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/performance/teens-school-sleep-complex-relationship.