Did you know that in a 2021 CDC survey, 42 states reported that 75-100% of public middle and high schools started before 8:30 a.m.? Schools start way too early, which creates challenges for students. Students can’t get enough sleep due to their extra homework or, sometimes, for older students, part-time jobs. When students can’t get the sleep they need for the day, they are unfocused and tend to get lower grades. Therefore, school boards and principals should reschedule schools to start at 8:30 or even later.
Schools need to start later for students to get more sleep. According to an article from the University of Utah Health about later school start times, “The National Sleep Foundation found that almost 60% of 6th through 8th graders and almost 90% of high school students in the United States are getting less than the recommended eight and a half to nine and a half hours of sleep on school nights.” This means that students get less sleep than they need on school nights, making them very tired during the day.
Something else to add here is a personal story about the impact of school starting early from a student in Minnesota named Isaac Olson. He says, “I strive to get 8-9 hours of sleep every night, but my early start times make this a challenge. During the week, I usually get around 7 and a half hours of sleep. Every Friday, I feel so tired from the week of getting up early that I usually go to bed at the same time I would on a school night.”
The obvious and simple solution to schools starting too early is to start schools later. According to an article about the establishment of later school start times, “We carried out a pre-/post-research study and showed that [when schools started later], there was an increase in the daily median sleep duration of 34 min, associated with a 4.5% increase in the median grades of the students and an improvement in attendance.” This shows that pushing the time back even a little bit later than 8:30 has a positive impact on grades and attitudes in teens. As you can see, starting school later can give students more sleep and have a very positive effect on their health and performance.
You might be wondering, “Why is this middle schooler focusing on later school start times so much?” Well, let me tell you. I was almost always late in elementary school and got so many late slips that I couldn’t keep track of them. I lived kind of far away, and I had to wake up super early to get to school because it started early. Usually, I felt tired and unready for the day. Schools starting too early affect students like me because we feel so tired and unfocused by the end of the day. If schools started later, students like me could get more sleep so we can be focused and just generally happy.
In conclusion, schools need to start later because early starting times don’t give students the sleep they need, resulting in students being tired and affecting their focus and memory. When schools do start later, students are more ready for the day and to get out there and learn!