Should school start times be pushed back?

Alyssa Goerzen, Journalist

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In order to maintain a healthy sleep schedule, teenagers would need roughly 9 to 9 1/2 hours of sleep a night. However, based on research as well as interviews that have been conducted, the average North High student is only getting about 6 hours of sleep a night. Johnah Grant, a senior at North, has spoken out about her sleep schedule. “I get around 6 hours of sleep a night,” Johnah said. “I go to bed at 11:30 p.m., and wake up at 5:30 a.m. to be to school on time.” Based on information provided by www.nationwidechildrens.org, the average teen is getting about 7 hours of sleep a night.

If we delayed our school start time by just one hour, North High students would be able to get the same amount of sleep, if  not more. But would they take advantage of that opportunity and get a good night’s rest, or would they pull all-nighters and still come to school sleep deprived? There would have to be an educated guess made based on that particular student’s personality and judgement levels.

Some effects of sleep deprivation that might prove to be most damaging in a high school environment include mentally disassociating in class, memory impairment and shortened attention span, and an increased number of sick days from school brought on by exhaustion (from lack of sleep.) This would certainly affect the average teen’s performance not only in class, but also after school when they’re expected to complete several hours worth of homework.

At a school in Pennsylvania, school start times have been pushed by an hour, resulting in better performance and lower stress levels from students. The question being raised in my mind is why USD 259 is not making the same efforts for their students’ overall health, since the results are obviously beneficial. The issue is certainly something to think about, because changes must be made to keep our students healthy.

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