Later start times would be a dream come true

Expecting students to be fully awake at 8 a.m. is unreasonable.

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Later start times would be a dream come true

Illustration: Lara Cayci

Illustration: Lara Cayci

Illustration: Lara Cayci

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Driving to school, fueled on only five hours to sleep. Groggily moving from class to class. Barely participating due to exhaustion. Many students can recognize these occurrences and agree that maintaining a healthy sleep schedule during the school year while juggling extra-curricular activities is a difficult task. As Saint Paul Academy and Summit School slowly approaches the end of the third quarter, schoolwork is piling up for students and working late is a common occurrence. Especially with the recent late start days due to weather, students are recognizing how being held down by sleep deprivation is consequential. School hours should start later to avoid serious health risks on the mental and physical well-being of students.

Those who don’t sleep the recommended amount face a number of health risks that can have serious consequences, including higher rates of obesity, depression, and motor-vehicle accidents among teens.”

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend 8.5 to 9.5 hours of sleep per night, however, only 25% of teens sleep the recommended amount, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics. Many students stay up in order to complete homework assignments due to the time taken by after-school activities, causing them to sleep at hours as late as 3 a.m. Those who don’t sleep the recommended amount face a number of health risks that can have serious consequences, including higher rates of obesity, depression, and motor-vehicle accidents among teens. Also, SPA’s curriculum is discussion based, involving activities like Harkness discussions that require strenuous participation. Most SPA students participate in after-school activities and sports that take up a lot of time, so the reason for staying up is usually due to busy schedules rather than exclusive procrastination. If over 73% of all students are not capable of fully participating in class and not making the most out of the experience due to sleep deprivation, administrators should consider readjusting the schedule.

Recently, unusual amounts of snow have impacted SPA students’ in one noticeable way: late starts. Students would arrive at school at 10 a.m. with shortened classes until 3 p.m. in order to avoid an entire snow day. Many students have proclaimed that those extra two hours of sleep have benefitted in engaging in Harkness discussions and actively partaking in class throughout the day. Expecting students to be fully awake at 8 a.m. is unreasonable. Although sleeping early and waking up early is the ideal, there are many instances where that is not an option. Many students have time-consuming extracurricular activities, like sports, and need to stay awake completing homework assignments. Due to this, the only way to tackle the epidemic of sleep deprivation is through the starting times.

Researchers at the CDC analyzed data from more than 9,000 students at eight high schools in Minnesota, Colorado, and Wyoming. They found that shifting the school day later in the morning resulted in a boost in attendance, test scores, and grades in math, English, science, and history. Schools also saw a decrease in tardiness, substance abuse, and symptoms of depression. Some even had a dramatic drop in teen car crashes. SPA students have experienced later starting times due to weather issues, and some have recently realized how easier it is to participate in classes with a healthier sleep schedule.

School start times should begin later as the lack of sleep is directly impacting the students’ health. Students need to be ready to perform at an optimal level for the entire school day, and administrators need to understand that. Students in officer positions, like the upper school council, need to communicate with teachers and administrators on these topics. While this may not permanently delay the start times, there would be more flexibility regarding the issue if students and teachers could communicate more efficiently.

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