Think about what you were doing at 6:30 this morning - maybe eating breakfast or just waking up, but probably sleeping. Some kids were already standing out in the cold, half asleep, waiting for the school bus. Many school - aged children and teenagers are forced to wake up at an early hour after very little sleep, only to be reprimanded for being unenergetic, tired, and listless during school. These problems would be solved if school start times were later.
Some people say that since kids will have to wake up early when they get older, they might as well start when they're young. This is not a reasonable argument because children need more sleep than adults, and lack of sleep can cause major health problems.
According to Dr. Mark Mahowald, director of the Minneapolis Regional Sleep Disorders Center, school beginning at 7:45 am is the equivalent of sending adults to a buisness meeting at four-thirty in the morning! Only fifteen percent of middle and high school students get the recommended nine hours of sleep, and twenty-five percent get less than six, says Dr.
Mary Carskadon, a sleep researcher at Brown University. Scientific studies have proven that teenagers have difficulty falling asleep before eleven pm because of bodily chemical changes that occur during adolescence. People may not realize this, and therefore blame sports, jobs, friends, and technology for keeping teens up late at night.
If nine hours of sleep is recommended for teens, who generally go to sleep around eleven pm, eight o' clock in the morning would seem a reasonable time to wake up.
Assuming it takes about forty-five minutes to get ready in the morning, and that the average bus ride (for students at my school) is about a half an hour, it would make sense for school to start at around nine to nine thirty in the morning.
While nine thirty would be an ideal time for that opening bell to ring, the change needn't be that major. In Edina, Minnesota, the school start time was shifted from seven twenty-five a.m. to eight-thirty a.m. Most students have gotten better grades since the change, and teachers note a decrease in the number of students falling asleep in class.
"I definetely see a difference," says Edina tenth-grader Josh Inouye. " I'm completely awake in my first class where before I was tired for the first few hours of school." I think that any change pushing the school start time ahead would be a positive one-in the interest of the mental and physical well-being of today's students.