Starting school later would benefit teenagers


Raegan Foster, Feature Editor & Business Manager

   School start times have been debated for years, and moving to a later start has been discussed. Unfortunately, even with the many benefits to students’ learning ability and overall health, scheduled time changes have not happened.   

Abigail Warner taking a much-needed nap (Photo by: Raegan Foster)

   Students are exhausted in the mornings, much to their teacher’s dismay. While the blame for this is usually placed on students staying up late on their phones, it has to do with something entirely out of their control. 

   Our circadian rhythm or biological clock is responsible for when we fall asleep and wake up. While children before 10 go to sleep and wake up early, the opposite is true for teens and pre-teens. 

    Teens’ circadian rhythm shifts forward, creating a zone at 9-10:00 p.m. where it is almost impossible to fall asleep. Along with their sleep moving forward, the time their bodies are ready to wake up also shifts from early morning to closer to 8:00 a.m.

    This means that when we wake up for school at 6:00 a.m., we get almost 2 hours less sleep than we need. Starting school later, like at around 8:30 a.m., would allow the students to feel less tired. 

    This, in turn, would allow students to retain more information in classes and reduce the risks of car accidents in the mornings because we would be more alert.

Students would be less exhausted in the mornings because they wake up in line with their circadian rhythm. This would enable their brains to be more active by the time they arrive at school. Starting school later would also allow students to retain the information better.

   Starting later would also allow students who can not drive to get out of school closer to when their parents are getting out of work. This would enable students to arrive home closer to when they got out of school, extending their mental ability to complete homework in the proper environment. 

   In addition, later starts would push back after-school practices and games, but it would still leave the same amount of time out of school as they do now because the start of school would be pushed back. 

   The only thing that could affect this is driving curfews for first-year drivers. In Michigan, this curfew is 10:00 p.m. – 5:00 a.m. This curfew actually lines up very well with the time that teenagers should start to feel drowsy naturally. 

  There are many factors in teenagers’ lives that they can not control. Their inability to sleep is one of those factors. So, why are adolescents being punished for something out of their control?