How Does Starting School Later Affect Students?

By: Candice Bresnak

Did you know that up to 70% of high school students suffer from a lack of sleep? According to Sleep Foundation, “Nearly 60% of middle schoolers do not get enough sleep on school nights. For high schoolers, that number is over 70%.” Their days can go from getting up before the sun to get ready for school, then after school extracurricular activities, such as sports, can leave students feeling tired. Students also have to make time for completing homework and spending time with family. Older students, in high school or college, could also have a part time job. This can lead to students staying up late at night trying to finish their homework.

If school started later, students would have more time to sleep and regain their energy from the days before. It has been proven that academic performances improve when school hours get pushed back. Both the American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the American Academy of Pediatrics recommend that both middle and high schools begin no earlier than 8:30 a.m.

Students 

Many people have opinions on this topic, a strong majority being students. When asked, most students will agree that starting school later will be beneficial to them not only academically but as well as physically. Getting more sleep can make students, and teachers, more physically motivated and improve their moods. When asked about her thoughts on later school hours Kali Borger, a student at SHS said, “Everyday I walk into school with barely any energy and almost no motivation to do anything.” Some students struggle with even getting up in the morning due to how drained they are. High school is when teenagers grow, and without enough sleep it can cause mental harm or stress. With having a bit more time to rest, students will be able to get the required hours of sleep that they need. On the grounds of grades and education, more hours of sleep will improve focus, which, in return, will improve grades.  

Shauna Connelly, a freshman at SHS, spoke out about how she felt about getting enough sleep and how it can be very difficult at times. “A lot of students stay up late trying to catch up on homework, and that only makes it harder for them to get up to go to school the next day.” Many students may also have a job, and/or have siblings to tend to as well as daily chores. With a very time-consuming workload, students may struggle to find enough time to be able to sleep. 

Kali Borger expresses her worries about students’ mental health. “Some are unable to get up in the morning because of how they are feeling. Some force themselves to get up and ignore their own health for school…Our generation is different from the ones before; depression and anxiety rates have been increasing like never before, and Covid-19 has affected everyone’s mental and physical health in many different ways.” Almost everyone has had a rough time adapting to the different situations that Covid-19 has caused. It is not always easy. Throughout quarantine, many people struggled with their mental health. Having more time to sleep would impact students’ health positively.

Parents

Starting school hours later could also affect the parents, whether that be positively or negatively. Kathryn Woomer, a mother of a fellow student at SHS, claimed that, “teenagers need more sleep. Sleep deprivation is known for leading to things like bad grades, lack of concentration, depression and mental health issues.” She goes on to explain why this will positively affect her and her children. “They would have more time to eat a better breakfast. It would also give them more time to get ready for school in the morning. They wouldn’t feel as rushed.” Mrs. Woomer expresses that she would feel better about her kids’ mental health if the hours were pushed back. 

Although many people agree with school hours being later, some parents, like Nicole Bresnak, disagree with it. She doesn’t have any objections to the time school starts at now because she claims that it will help prepare for jobs later down the road. “Starting school at 7:30 a.m. is very similar to starting a job in the real world.” This builds responsibility and awareness for the future. When asked if she would benefit from this, she claimed, “I would not benefit from a later start time because trying to get everyone up and ready all at the same time in the morning is a challenge. Having them spread out is very helpful.” Having everyone get ready at the same time can lead to being rushed and can cause people to be late, whether that be to work or to school.

Teachers

Like students, teachers are at the school at the same time as the students, if not earlier. Teachers can also suffer from a lack of sleep with having to grade assignments and tests. Mr. Hahn, a math teacher at SHS, said, “I believe this would help teachers as well. Much like the students, we will be more alert, focused, and motivated each day.”  When both students and teachers are more energized, class can seem more fun and active than when everyone feels tired and exhausted. This can lead to students paying more attention to class and absorbing the information better, causing their grades to increase.  Mr. Hahn expressed his worry for his students. “Students are extremely affected by their tiredness and exhaustion and it negatively affects their performance… since students have to be in school so early in the morning, they are less likely to eat breakfast. Not only is this healthy for the body, but it is extremely important for a healthy mind.” Many have to agree that eating a healthy breakfast is good for the mind and body.

Conclusion

Different people have different opinions on this topic and whether or not it should be executed. For the most part, it can benefit the students and teachers, while parents could side differently on the topic. Overall, it has great benefits and has shown to improve the students’ performance. Although many students and parents have opinions on this topic, it is up to the schools and research to pull through with this decision.