Sleep or School?

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Sleep or School?

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Sleep is an important and fundamental part of every person’s life and is especially crucial in the lives of teenagers and students. Unfortunately, the early start time of school does not allow for students to get enough sleep the night before. Without plenty of sleep, students cannot perform to the best of their ability. Instead, schools, like Westminster, should start at a later time so that students can have those extra hours of sleep that are so essential for teenagers.

          Recent studies show that sleep affects many different parts of the human body and is even more important for teenagers who are still growing and maturing.

          For example, Better Health Channel writes that, “puberty hormones shift the teenager’s body clock forward by about one or two hours, making them sleepier one to two hours later. Yet, while the teenager falls asleep later, early school starts don’t allow them to sleep in. This nightly ‘sleep debt’ leads to chronic sleep deprivation.”

When teenagers are losing sleep consistently, because of the changes their bodies are going through, they can become moody, unmotivated, and have difficulty learning well in school. If Westminster is hoping to continually improve overall academics and grades, then a later start time would allow students to focus better on school work and perform to their best ability.

          In addition, the social and physical tolls that students encounter daily play a major part in keeping teenagers up later and preventing them from sleep. Sports, extracurricular activities, and homework are all parts of a normal, healthy teenager’s life. While the recommended amount of sleep teenagers should get each night is 9.5 to 10 hours, most Westminster students don’t even come close to reaching that number.

           “I get about 6.5 to 7 hours of sleep each night. I’m too busy with after-school sports and homework to get to bed any earlier,” Madison Tucker, Junior, said.

           Knowing that most students lead busy and energetic lives, schools need to adjust their start times so that students can come to school feeling refreshed, energized, and ready to learn.

          Finally, Westminster should consider giving their teenagers more rest because other schools in the area are already making the change. Schools in the Rockwood School District have adjusted the beginning of first hour to be thirty minutes later than normal. The movement is taking place in schools all across the country as more and more districts are understanding the impact sleep has on its students. Westminster should also join in on helping students achieve their goals and produce work they can be proud of which can be accomplished with more sleep.

         Some may argue that a later start time would mean a longer day in the afternoon for students. In reality, it would only be 15 to 30 minutes longer in the afternoon, and if students are getting more sleep, that seems a small price to play.

         Others may point out that Westminster already has a late start every Thursday. While that is an improvement, one late start each week is hardly enough to make a dent in the amount of sleep students actually need.

          To improve the overall sleep and health benefits of students, Westminster should consider giving students extra time for sleep by pushing their start time back by half an hour, starting at 8:30am rather than 7:55am. This would allow students the ability to sleep in more and feel more rested and refreshed for their school day ahead.