Push for later school start on the rise

Janak Jaini

The American Pediatric Association
has been campaigning for schools
nationwide to open no earlier than
8:30 a.m. If actualized, this plan may
lead to more sleep for high school
students. Advocates argue that alert,
unfatigued adolescents will display
greater school performance.
Increasing amounts of scientific
evidence indicate the importance of
adequate sleep, and a National Sleep
Foundation poll found that 87% of
American teenagers are not receiving
the 8.5-9.5 hours of sleep necessary for
ideal brain function. The consequences
of sleep deprivation are detrimental.
According to Jeffery Donlea, the
brain converts short-term memory
into long term learning during sleep.
A lack of sleep prevents learning and
can contribute to the development of
mental disorders.
Psychology teacher Marc Rutman
said, “Sleep deprivation has an effect
on everybody, whether they’re mentally
ill or not. It must aggravate it.
You’re not only dealing with the illness,
but the effects of sleep deprivation…
can even cause a hallucinogenic
Because most chronic mental illnesses
develop during childhood and
the teen years, when the frontal cortex
of the brain undergoes many drastic
changes, a lack of sleep in adolescence
can be quite dangerous for those
with a genetic predisposition towards
psychological disorders, according to
the National Mental Health Instiute.
Additionally, sleep deprivation
heavily affects school performance.
According to a 2008 Duke University
publication, a lack of sleep can negatively
impact focus, creativity, adaptive
learning, and verbal communication
The prior revelations are particularly
relevant in light of America’s
academic performance compared to
other nations. The United States is
falling behind on standard examination
scores as proven by the 2012
Program for International Assesment.
The campaign for more sleep may be
a component of other movements to
increase American youth’s global educational
Although the benefits of well rested
teens could be monumental, opposing
parties believe that later start times
may cause a logistical issue, especially
if implemented nationwide.
Dr. Stan Lipnowski, a board member
of the Canadian Pediatric Society,
acknowledges the flaws of this potential
“The rest of the world doesn’t revolve
around a teen’s school hours. From a
physiological standpoint, there might be
some benefit, no denying it. The question
is: How do you actually organize
that? That’s probably the biggest hurdle,”
Lipnowski said.
Despite Lipnowski’s claims, some are
skeptical regarding the utility of a 30
minute schedule change. This concern
holds relevance considering that some
teens stay up later on cell phones and
social media.
Describing how she would utilize another
30 minutes of time at home, junior
Mary-Frances Kastleberg said, “I would
just use it as extra time.” “I think most students
would do the same.”


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