Early School Start Times: Good or Bad?

On average only two out of every three middle school to high school students get the recommended eight hours of sleep. Many adults and students alike believe that students should, at the bare minimum, get eight hours of sleep in order to live normal healthy lives. Many of these same people believe that early school start times are to blame for not getting that sleep. Scientific research backs this up due to several studies that have shown teenagers need proper amounts of sleep, and if they don’t get that, then there will be impacts on both immediate and long term health. Based on this evidence I believe that schools should implement later start times. Some people will say that sleep deprivation happens when a person chooses not to go to sleep at the proper time. While in some cases this is true, in most it is not. This is because when a person hits puberty something called a phase delay happens.

According to the writers of the cleveland clinic website in the article “Delayed Sleep Phase Syndrome (DSPS) in Children and Adolescents”(2013), phase delay “is a disorder in which a person’s sleep is delayed by 2 or more hours beyond the socially acceptable or conventional bedtime.”(p. 1) This phase delay combined with the early start time leads to several negative effects. If schools were to delay their start times even by as little as forty-five minutes it would counteract this condition. This perspicacious move by the schools would lead to an improvement in attitude, academics, and in the overall atmosphere of school. When people receive the recommended amount of sleep it has a significant positive effect on the immediate health of that individual. Some of these positive impacts are an improvement in mood, attention, and memory. In contrast when a person suffers from sleep deprivation they tend to consume larger, sometimes unhealthy amounts of caffeine in an attempt make up for the drowsiness caused by the lack of sleep. This is an unhealthy habit that can lead to too much caffeine consumption which can lead to severe health conditions such as heart attacks. Not all effects of sleep are immediately noticeable. Several independent studies have shown that getting proper amounts of sleep as an adolescent can have long lasting effects on your health. Lack of sleep can cause emotional damage as well as physical damage. This is evidenced by the fact that there is a correlation of people who don’t get enough sleep and developing depression.

There is also a correlation that suggests sleep deprivation makes you more likely to partake in unhealthy or illegal activities such as doing drugs or drinking alcohol. Large amounts of people who are not able to get the proper amount of sleep daily will end up developing health issues later in life. If schools want to raise morale amongst their students and increase their overall health, then they should start school at a later time. This change would result in better youth development and would help their students become more successful and generally better off later in life.

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