Have you ever woken up for school and wanted to go back to bed? I guarantee the answer is yes. In the United States, schools have traditionally started at around 8:30 a.m. However, there is growing evidence that this is not the best time for school to start.
Many teenagers struggle to get enough sleep. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that teenagers between the ages of 14 and 17 should get between eight and ten hours of sleep per night. However, many teenagers fall short of this recommendation.
One reason for this is that the body’s natural sleep cycle shifts during adolescence. Teenagers tend to feel more alert in the evening and may struggle to fall asleep before 11:00 p.m. As a result, getting up early for school can leave them feeling tired and groggy, which may lead to a subpar school experience.
Lack of sleep also has a negative impact on academic performance. Studies have shown that students who get enough sleep perform better academically than those who don’t. When students are tired, they may struggle to concentrate and retain information. They may also be more likely to make mistakes and take longer to complete tasks.
Sleep loss can impact teachers too. In fact, at Haverford, teachers are at school far earlier than students. If we were to start school later, teachers would also be able to rest and have more energy when they teach their students.
Starting school later could also have positive impacts on students’ mental health. Lack of sleep has been linked to anxiety and depression in teenagers. Giving students more time to sleep could help them feel more rested and relaxed, which could in turn improve their mental health.
Starting school later could benefit families in many ways. Parents who work long hours may find it difficult to get their children to school early in the morning. Starting school later could make it easier for them to drop off their children on their way to work. It could also give families more time to spend together in the morning, such as eating breakfast together.
School starting after 8:30 could provide many benefits for students and teachers alike. It is time for schools to consider changing their schedules to better meet the needs of their students and families.