Studies show benefits to starting school later


Elise Dube, Staff writer

Often throughout the day, many students complain of being tired and not getting enough sleep the night before, but how would they feel if they didn’t have to get up as early for school?

Many studies have shown that high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m. in order to give teenagers more time to sleep. However, many schools across the country instead start between 7:00 a.m. and 8:00 a.m., requiring some students to get up as early as 5:30 to get ready for school.

Getting up that early is not only an annoyance to the students, but it’s also bad for their health. Teenagers need anywhere between 8 ½ to 9 hours of sleep each night, and that waking up so early for school can not only make students sleep deprived, but can also affect academic performance and overall attendance.

With all this in mind, many professionals urge school districts to change the start times of their high schools to 8:30 a.m. so that students can get more sleep. A later start to the school day has been proven to have positive effects, such as better academic performance, less tardiness and absences, and a lowered chance of kids developing depression.

“It would be rad, because then I could sleep in and not have to get up at 5 every morning”, says Emily Worpek, a Junior, when asked about how she would feel if schools started later in the morning.

But despite all the convincing evidence that school districts should change the start times of their high schools, there are several other issues to consider. Changing the school start times for teenagers would mean that busing schedules would be shifted and delayed for the district, and most parents rely on the current scheduled start time so they have time in the morning to take care of carpools, bringing younger children to daycare, or so they can get to work on time. In addition, many students would have to deal with later school days cutting into after- school jobs or extracurricular.

“I have dance after school at 4:30, sometimes earlier, so starting school earlier and leaving school earlier makes it easier to get homework done and go to dance without stressing too much,” says junior Danielle Quenneville, who would prefer if the school schedule stayed the same.

Also to consider is that the effectiveness of a later start to school would heavily depend on when the students go to sleep each night. If schools changed to start an hour later, would students still go to bed at the same time to gain that extra hour of sleep, or would they simply stay up for another hour knowing that school starts later? In the case of the latter, it would be pointless to change the school start times if students are just going to continue staying up late and getting less sleep.

All in all, the debate for whether schools should start later in the day or if they should stay the same seems as if it will continue to go on for a while. Despite the positive evidence that sleeping in would be beneficial, students shouldn’t expect a change anytime soon.