Does an Earlier Starting Time in Schools Really Benefit Teenage Students?

Topics: Sleep deprivation, Adolescence, Sleep Pages: 3 (950 words) Published: March 9, 2008
Most students today struggle under the heavy load of countless extracurricular activities and lengthy homework assignments, all for a tiny opportunity to get accepted into the most exclusive colleges and eventually the competitive workforce. Starting school at the break of dawn does nothing but deter students from functioning at the best of their ability. In spite of multiple attempts by parents, educators, and students to adapt to schools' early starting times, the best remedy to this problem seems to be a later school day. According to the National Sleep Foundation, "later sleep and wake patterns among adolescents are biologically determined" ("A Look at the School Start Times Debate"). Teenagers are naturally inclined "to stay up later in the night and wake up later in the morning" ("Look"). School times that start first thing in the morning conflict with teenagers' intrinsic sleeping patterns, and lack of sleep adversely affects teenagers' health. A 2006 national survey found that 28 percent of students fall asleep during class at least once weekly and that "only 20 percent of adolescents get the recommended nine hours of sleep on school nights" ("Survey: Teens Not Getting Enough Sleep"). Proponents of early starting times in schools say that adolescents' minds are most active in the early morning; actually, teenagers' brains actually do not become active until well after the school day has already started ("From A to Z"). In fact, teenagers' levels of melatonin, a sleep-producing hormone, do not abate until about eight in the morning (Bernard), leaving teenagers groggy as their school day begins. Many teachers and school administrators say that all this evidence is highly anecdotal, but a Minneapolis school noticed evident benefits of making the school day work with the students' internal clocks after moving its starting time one hour later in 1996. Students' grades spiked, and teachers reported that "students were more alert, more attentive in class, less...

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