School should start later

The benefits of a late school start

The life of a teenager is one of precarious balance. We need sleep, have to go to school, enjoy our hobbies and want fun. Out of all of these, school and sleep are the only options that are forced onto teenagers, and I think the two should work together instead of contradicting each other to achieve a peaceful but productive schedule. However, that is not the reality, and it’s actually quite the opposite. 

“I usually sleep around six hours during the school year and would rather the 8:30 start time be pushed to later,” varsity football player Austin Ritz said. 

Not only is an average school day seven hours long, but the average school starts at 8:30 a.m. According to the CDC, the ideal amount of sleep teenagers should get is 9 hours. Besides that, it is convenient for us to have extra hours to do extracurriculars, chores, and spend time with friends. It’s almost impossible to keep up with everything while staying a happy and sane teenager. 

If regular class time is pushed back, it would make sense for zero period to start later as well. However, taking a zero period is a choice, so it is not something I am concerned about. I am taking a zero period this year and although waking up early isn’t the ideal morning for me, I made the choice to take that class, so I can’t complain much. 

In my opinion, I’d prefer the school day to start later in the day and end in the evening rather than start early and end in the middle of the day. I don’t think the school day has to necessarily be shorter, rather just start later. A pushback to 9:45 or 10:00 a.m. seems like a solid time. If you already have been getting enough sleep, you have extra time to do whatever you want in the morning, and if you are sleep deprived, this is the perfect opportunity to get an extra hour in.  I wouldn’t mind sports practices staying the same length or being after school; the hardest part of the day for me is getting up, so having extra time on my hands in the morning would make school more enjoyable for me because I’d be fully awake walking into my classes. I’m not the only one who feels like this either, as it seems to be common with athletes. 

“I find the early start time an inconvenience, which hinders my academic, extracurricular, and personal life with no positive benefit to me,” Ritz said. 

Set the standard that all athletes must pass their classes in order to play, but it can be hard to keep up with the workload and keep up with all the types of problems teenagers deal with, all while balancing sleep. According to Cornell University, good quality sleep for teenagers is especially important for physical health, emotional and mental development, and school performance. 

As teenagers, our minds are not fully developed and reaching the goal of nine hours of sleep is vital in making sure that our brains are as healthy as they can be. According to ResMed, sleep deprivation can over-stimulate parts of the brain and even lead to permanent brain damage. The reason for this is because of the brain’s “neural plasticity” – which means its ability to adapt to new situations. 

Teenagers’ minds are not fully developed and reaching the goal of nine hours of sleep is beneficial in making sure our brains are as healthy as they can be. 

“As someone who is involved in athletics I can say that sleep is a vital aspect of people’s lives and a start time closer to or later than 9:00 would be much more preferable,” Ritz said. 

The reason school should be pushed to a later time isn’t to allow teenagers to go out later, party harder, or stay up all night. The reason is simple: starting school at a later time helps preserve our health during a vital developmental period. Our health is a valid enough reason for the school start time to be pushed back.