Sleep Deprivation a Problem for High School Students

Sleep deprived girl in class. photo Odyssey on-line

Meaghan McDonough, Veritas Staff

Teenage students struggle each day to wake up, get themselves out of  bed, brush their teeth, get dressed, eat breakfast, and head out the door for their long day of hard work at school . They are in a fog, at least for the first few hours of school, and have a hard time concentrating and staying emotionally stable. The only thing they are looking forward to while they are at school is the moment they get to go home and return back to their warm bed for a chance to catch up on sleep. This cycle of catching up on sleep is all caused by the early start times of school and lack of sleep the student is getting from it.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that high schools should start no earlier than 8:30 a.m., but as of last fall fewer than 20% of high schools followed this guideline even though it has been proven that delaying start times of even a half-an-hour will impact the student’s ability to perform academically. Students have the chance to enroll in clubs and sports(and most of them do), which are a major factor of loss of sleep and poor concentration in school. Balancing these activities along with work, family, and social schedules can be hard for anyone.

I believe that all schools should consider following the later start time guideline in order for students to be more effective and prepared for the day’s hard work.

According to a clinical sleep psychologist Ellie McGlinchey, it has been proven that bodies often begin to suppress melatonin, the hormone associated with sleep, during puberty. This can mess with the teens’ internal clocks, which then changes their sleep schedule. These hormones produced in their bodies make them want to go to bed later and wake up later. Since school starts too early for the teenagers to achieve what their hormones and body desire, they feel drained and more tired than when they did before they were asleep. This would make any teenager struggle to wake up want to stay in bed forever, including myself.

I, a student-athlete, have experienced this imbalance and find it very hard waking up in the morning after my daily activities of six and a half- hours of school work, 2 hours of school sports, another ninety minutes of club sports, hour or two of homework, dinner, showering, and if I can fit it in, family time. Sometimes it is impossible for me to fall asleep before 11:30 a.m. or 12:00 a.m, nevermind waking up at 6:30 a.m.in order to give myself  enough time to get ready and make it to school on time.

Speaking for all teenagers who go through this struggle of sleep deprivation and forcing themselves out of bed, I think it is time for the schools to listen to the guidelines recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and extend start times of schools in order to better the function and academics of the students.                   

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