Wake up to the idea of starting later

Exhaustion seems to be the defining factor of what makes a high schooler a high schooler. Tired and overworked, students stumble out of bed at an ungodly hour to head to school when it’s still dark.


There’s a simple solution to this: starting later.


Starting later would reap an untold amount of benefits, including in school, athletics, and overall better health. See, it’s not really about the time– it’s more about the fact that with a later start time comes more sleep.


While it’s a common stereotype that teens spend the weekends in bed, it’s very different during the week. According to the National Sleep Foundation, only 15% of teens are getting the sleep they need during the week. It’s actually quite easy to see why.


According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, the recommended amount of sleep for a teenager is 9.25 to 9.5 hours of sleep. But for most students at York who get up around 6:30, that would mean going to bed at 9:00. While school ends at around 3 o’clock, after school there is a long list of responsibilities for teens including sports, clubs, and homework, making it very hard to get in bed by 9:00.


But even if teens could manage to be in bed by 9:00, it’s a very unlikely that they could fall asleep.


“Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during

adolescence,” the National Sleep Foundation reported, “meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm.”


A later start time would fit more with teens’ natural sleep schedule. Starting school even at 9:00, a little over an hour later would allow most students to sneak in another hour and a half of sleep which can make a huge difference.


According to Nationwide Children’s Hospital, lack of sleep can affect mood, behavior, cognitive ability, and even academic performance. If lack of sleep and early start times are hurting students academically, York should give students all the skills they need to succeed along with encouraging them.


Academics aren’t even the worst of it. While lack of sleep can be bad in the short term, there are also some lifelong problems that can arise, including being at an increased risk for depression, heart disease, and type 2 diabetes according to UK’s National Health Service.


While these are extreme cases of what happens due to sleeplessness, habits are developing now that will stay with teens for the rest of their life. Developing healthy habits are important, and York needs to let students know that sleep is important for it to work. Telling students why doesn’t really work. If they need it to work, York should let students know why through changing their policies.


Implementing late starts each Wednesday is a good start. Unfortunately, lost sleep can’t just be gained back in one day, which is why there should be a later start every day. Of course, if there was a later start, school would probably need to go later in the afternoon too. Later end times can be more convenient for picking up parents, although extracurriculars would be pushed back- a downside to later start times.


But acknowledging student’s health when thinking about start time may encourage the school to lessen workload and other time-consuming responsibilities.


There are other reasons, too, why pushing back start times may be difficult.


Bus schedules are one of the biggest conflicts with later starts. If buses are an issue, the district could stagger the school start times in reverse. Earliest times would be for elementary school and latest start time would be for high school. Elementary schoolers get up early and go to bed early while high school does the exact opposite.


Sports is the other major conflict. York couldn’t have matches after school if the other schools ended earlier. It’s why if school was pushed back, it should be done as a conference. Additionally, after-school practices would have to be later which is a downside, yet the before school practices would be later letting those students being able to get more rest.


Although sports are important to student-athletes, sports should not be the reason why times can’t be pushed back. Students are not in school for sports, they’re in school, before anything else, to learn. It is easier to learn when you’re awake, and well-rested students make higher achieving students.  


The downsides of starting later are manageable problems. Sleep deprivation is not a manageable problem- the only solution is to sleep. Starting later would be one way to let students sleep, and York shouldn’t be sleeping on the chance to improve student health by pushing back the start time.