School Should Start Later

We are all familiar with the snooze button on our alarm clock. Many of us press this button several times in order to get a few more minutes of shut-eye before the tedious school day begins. Many of us feel drowsy, space off, and even fall asleep during class. However, school doesn’t have to be nap time. If school started later, students would be able to get more sleep and pay more attention in class, ultimately learning more efficiently. Of course, some would argue that students could cut back on other distractions, such as TV or video games, and instead finish their homework and go to sleep early. They would argue that it is the students’ fault for procrastinating and finishing what they could have finished before dinner at midnight. Therefore, it would be unnecessary to delay the start of school if these students simply developed a better work ethic. This is true. However, many students have much more complex schedules, intertwined with extra-curricular activities and the like. Some students, no matter how hard they try, may not be able to finish their homework until late at night due to sports, music activities, or anything else they might be preoccupied with. They may not spend any time at all on said distractions and still be forced to go to bed at midnight. In order to let such students get a decent night’s sleep, the school day should start later. Such a change would help many students stay awake and more focused during the school day. Let’s consider the case of a hypothetical student, Mazdok. Mazdok sleeps in class on a daily basis, even during the most interesting lectures, because his schedule doesn’t allow him to sleep until midnight every night. Does Mazdok learn a lot during class? Probably not. He won’t learn much if he’s sleeping. However, there is hope for poor Mazdok. If school started one hour later, Mazdok could get one more hour of sleep, which could be the difference between dozing off in class and staying awake and paying attention. Although the school day would be shorter, Mazdok would get a lot more out of it than he would in a regular day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adolescents should be getting 9 to 10 hours of sleep a night to deal with their biological changes. However, the average teenager gets only 6 hours of sleep each night. Only 20% of the teenage population gets the recommended amount of sleep per night. Sleep deprivation is obviously not good for their learning, as well as for their development. Another study by the National Sleep Foundation showed that, of those surveyed, 43% reported that daytime sleepiness interfered with their normal daytime activities. According to specialists at the Mayo Clinic, if someone got enough sleep, they could wake up without an alarm clock. According to the National Sleep Foundation, only half of all Americans are able to wake up without an alarm clock. Sleep deprivation can occur for several reasons, including changes in adolescents’ biological clock. A study conducted by Mary A. Carskadon, Ph.D, and Ronald Dahl, M.D, showed that the onset of puberty brings about changes in the biological clocks of adolescents. These changes cause a tendency to go to bed later and to wake up later. If students don’t procrastinate and finish their homework and go to bed early, this problem wouldn’t exist for many students, but for others, their schedule prevents them from doing so. Starting school later would let them squeeze an extra hour of sleep in, which could do them wonders throughout the school day.