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Why High School Should Start Later

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School starting earlier than 8:30 in the morning can cause students to not get the necessary amount of sleep. 

High school is an important time ones life, it is where you are supposed to be deciding your future but how can we expect students to do that with them tired enough to fall asleep in the middle of a lecture.

First lets start with how much sleep you need. According to Mary Carskadon from Brown University a teenage student needs at least 9 and a half hours of sleep to stay fully attentive and achieve maximum academic performance, something most teens reportedly do not get. In fact many teens reported getting only 5 hours of sleep a night.

Reasons for high school to start later:

1. Sleep patterns change like they do in other mammals as we age. Many studies have shown that once puberty hits our bed times and wake times become later, this lasts until approximately 19 and a half for females and 21 for men says Russell Foster professor of circadian Neuroscience. Foster also states that once we reach the age of 55 our sleep patterns go back to how they were before puberty, approximately 2 hours earlier.

2. A lack of sleep can affect people in ways you wouldn’t expect. Such as a higher stress level, lack of empathy, change in the sense of humor and many more, says Foster.

3. Research done has proved that young men who have slept only 4 hours a night six nights in a row have a greatly impaired blood-glucose regulation. This can give you an increased risk of cardiovascular pathology and can lead to type 2 diabetes

4. Not getting enough sleep can lead to a lower level of cortisol which is the hormone in adrenaline that activates the fight or flight response in stressful situations. A decrease in the amount of cortisol is proven to lead to many psychological ailments such as depression, emotional hypersensitivity, and an inability to cope with stress. Stressed teen

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These are just some of the changes that have been proven to occur when a student doesn’t get enough sleep.

School starting later increases attendance as shown in studies that 8 schools in Minnesota, Colorado, and Wyoming participated in.

The same study also shows that for schools who shift there start times to later in the day also have increased test scores and higher grades in math, science, social studies, and English.

After making start times later schools also saw a decrease in tardiness, substance abuse, and a dramatic drop in teen car crashes. “The eight hours of sleep seems to be the tipping point for making healthy or unhealthy behavioral decisions.” says Kyla Wahlstrom former North St. Paul principle.

Starting school at 8:30 and later still isn’t for everyone that is why certain schools such as Alexandria’s have an optional earlier start to take extra advanced classes. 

More rested less rushed

Not all schools benefit from start times being pushed back one such school is St. Louis Park High School. At this particular school they did not have conclusive academic results. However Rob Metz superintendent says, “I remember greeting kids walking in at 7:15 a.m. who look barely awake and now with an 8:20 a.m. start the teens look more rested and less rushed.

Most of the schools that participated in the U’s study saw a significant decrease in student crashes. “It makes sense,” says Wahlstrom, “because kids like most people when sleep deprived are more distracted.”

Opposing Views

Opposing point:Sports practice which can last anywhere between 1-2 hours after school may become unfeasible with students schedules.

Counter Argument:This might be a problem for some students but it would be very few and far between, because what is being proposed is an hour or less later start for most schools which would push the end of school back only another hour. This wouldn’t change most students schedules because now that they are getting more sleep they can be more efficient and get more homework done in less time.

Opposing Point: During the winter, when the sun sets earlier children and teens may be unable to walk home safely while it is dark.

Counter Argument: Most high school students who play sports can drive and do drive to and from school or have friends who are willing to give rides if it is “to dark” for them to walk home safely and there parents are unable to.


Overall school starting later seems to be the correct option to take and more and more schools are making the change there may be some cons but the pros outweigh them by far.


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