Early school start time is detrimental to health

It’s 7 am on a cold, gloomy and lifeless Monday morning. You lumber through the gates of the school. You and everyone else around you, stumble to class– slowly, reluctantly and with mindless expressions, your faces seem pale, sickly and almost green looking. Is this the apocalypse? Because we are the zombies.

Getting hardly any sleep the night before, we wake up every morning at six am and go to school, only to find that we are getting yelled at for falling asleep during class. Adolescents need at least 8 ½ hours of sleep every night, and according to the National Sleep Foundation one study shows that only 15% of teens get 8 ½ hours of sleep on a school night.

School simply starts too early for teens to function. While adults may claim that teenagers only sleep for lazy purposes, they fail to realize that because of the changes that teens go through, their bodies cannot usually fall asleep until around 11 pm. In order to get the proper amount of sleep to function teenagers actually rely on sleeping in later.

Another reason teens do not go to bed at a proper time is because of the vast amounts of homework they have to do. Teenagers do not often enjoy staying up until 2 am to study for a test but the truth is they don’t have a choice. With the unreasonable amounts of homework teenagers must do it is impractical to force them to wake up at 6 am and ask them to stay focused and ready to learn at school.

Making teenagers wake up so early and butchering the amount of sleep they have not only hurts their focus but it also can cause serious health issues. Sleep loss can lead to insomnia as well as depression. In an American poll taken in 2005 people who were diagnosed with depression or anxiety were more likely to sleep less than six hours at night. The consequences don’t end there, lack of sleep can also lead to weight gain and obesity, because the body needs more energy to stay awake and thus it requires more food.

In addition,  loss of proper rest can also lead to car accidents due to drowsiness. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimated that drowsiness is a main cause in 100,000 car crashes and 1,550 deaths resulting from car crashes in one year in the U.S. Most of these incidents were caused by people under the age of 25.

School starts earlier because the community wants to save money on buses so they have more people taking the bus at the same time. And in doing this, they sacrifice the health of adolescence. They would rather their students grades drop, they would rather them be depressed, they would rather them posses traumatic health issues, they will even risk lives for the sake of saving money on one more bus.

We are already one step closer to pushing back school start times with late start Wednesdays, but one hour is not enough to make up for several hours of lost rest. If we make the regular start time at at least 9:30 a.m. instead of 7:30a.m. students will be well rested, focused and ready to learn. Stop letting the bus system dictate student’s right to health and a good education.