Should School Start Times Should Be Adjusted?


Laura Noehren, Managing Editor and Sports Editor

School start time has forever been argued and questioned. Often when students argue for later start times, it is brushed off as complaining. However, pushing back school start times makes a lot of sense on several levels.

Teens need around nine hours of sleep a night and studies also show that not sleeping enough can be harmful for teens’ mental and physical health. However, when looking at a typical teenager’s day, there is not much time for sleep. Between school, extracurricular activities, a job, homework and everything else students are being asked to do, sleeping often gets put at a low priority.

Junior Anna Kelly is very busy. She spends time in jazz band, show choir band, and marching band (just to name a few) while working her way through difficult classes like Comp and AP Chemistry. All of this puts her at a disadvantage when it comes to getting the recommended nine hours of sleep. She often stays up late finishing homework after music practices that run until eight or nine.

“By staying up late to complete necessary classwork and then getting up early for extracurriculars, I found myself not falling asleep in classes, but rather in a state of numbness in which I might as well have been asleep because there was no way I was absorbing anything being told to me,” said Kelly.

Kelly is not the only student in this situation. I personally struggle through trying to balance challenging classes, extracurriculars, and sleep. Again and again, with every student asked, sleep continuously falls to the end of the importance list. And as it falls lower and lower on the list, school becomes more and more difficult.

“Being up until 12-1 am doing homework and then getting up at 6am doesn’t give you much sleep at all,” said Ellie Bonefas, junior.

The trend is clear. Society expects teens to be incredibly involved, to get good grades, and to have a healthy social life. All these factors lead to a lifestyle where sleep is deprioritized and too many kids don’t get the suggested nine hours of sleep a night.

Biology is not helping in the case of teens and sleeping. When a child reaches puberty, the body’s natural clock gets pushed back two hours. This means that if a child is used to getting tired around 9 pm, they will begin to not feel tired until 11pm. The same is said for waking up. If a child is normally waking up and feeling rested at 7, they will not feel the same until 9am as a teen (This is why your younger siblings all woke up earlier than you on Christmas). Asking teens to wake up and fully function by 7am is like asking adults to start working at 5 am. This does not make much sense. So now we have the whole story. Teens are over booked by society’s demands, and often overlook the importance of sleep. On top of that, the biological clock set by puberty makes it harder for teens to wake up early in the morning. So, what should be done?

A school in Seattle changed to later start times and got interesting results. Reports showed that the students got an average of 34 minutes more sleep. While this isn’t much, it is still an improvement. The scholarly results are the real trick though. The teens in the Seattle schools got better grades and the attendance percentages went up. Pushing back the start time helped the students. This same concept should be implemented here at Linn-Mar. Pushing back the start time could help increase sleep amounts for students, which in turn could help with grades, stress, and many other common issues high school students face.