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Sleeping later on school days

by BRIANNA DELUCA Staff Writer

At one point or another, every student has hit the snooze button on their alarm clock and then crawled back underneath the covers. Ringing the bell early is having negative effects on high school students everywhere.

In many parts of the country, classes begin as early as 7 a.m., which means buses pick up students even earlier. Waiting outside for the bus every morning at 6:30 is not ideal, even for the early birds. Here at Monroe, start time is at 7:27 a.m., with the first bell at 7:22 a.m.

Sleep deprivation is proving to be an issue around the country. A recent study conducted by the National Sleep Foundation discovered that 60 percent of children under 18 complained about being tired throughout the school day. Pushing back the first bell can create a solution to the sleeplessness problem.

Teenagers often have irregular sleeping patterns throughout the week. On weekends, they tend to go to bed later and then sleep in the next morning. When Monday comes around, their bodies are not used to having to wake up on time for school.

Freshman Paula Beer says, “I always struggle to get up in the morning. No matter how early I set my alarm, I just ignore it and wind up oversleeping.”

Requiring students to wake up at an early hour means they must try to fall asleep before they are actually ready. That is, if they hope to get a healthy amount of sleep.

The average teen needs about eight hours of rest every night to be fully functional in the morning. Lack of sleep can cause a high school student to not only look tired, but also to act differently.

Teenagers’ abilities to learn, listen, concentrate, and solve problems are greatly affected by the amount of sleep they receive. Students who take tests first thing in the morning are often not mentally ready to do so. This can result in lower grades that would have been higher if they had time to fully wake up.

Lack of sleep can also lead to aggressive behavior and crankiness. Nobody wants to be around cranky teens in the morning, especially when they are trying to focus in the classroom.

Perhaps the most dangerous effect of sleep withdrawal threatens those who drive themselves and others to school. When a sleep-deprived student takes the wheel, the risk of getting into a car accident increases. Students are still getting used to the road, and not getting enough sleep does not help. Serious injuries or death can result.

A more reasonable time to start school is around nine a.m. At least students would not have to wait at their bus stops in the dark, before the sun is completely up.

Starting school later would allow teens to get more sleep. Well-rested students have better concentration and focus more intently on whatever it is they are trying to accomplish. Whether it is learning a new concept in history or competing against a rival school in a sport, sleep makes it that much easier to succeed.

Freshman Grace Rudnick says, “I’d be so much happier in the morning if school started later because extra sleep just makes me a completely different person.”

Changes made in Minnesota school times showed positive results. Pushing back the start of the school day from 7:15 a.m. to 8:40 a.m. resulted in better attendance, decreased tardiness, and fewer visits to the school nurse.

Researchers also found that students at a school starting at 8:37 a.m. slept about an hour more and had less difficulty staying awake in school. They also had better grades than students at a school with a 7:15 a.m. start time.

Although starting late would mean ending late, students would still have enough time to complete homework and participate in extracurricular activities. Even if a teen went to sleep at midnight, he would still be able to squeeze in eight healthy hours before school started at nine a.m.

Clearly, allowing students to sleep in will enhance learning experiences.

If you were in charge of setting a start time for school, when would you decide to ring the bell?

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