School Should Start Later

For+many+students%2C+North+High%E2%80%99s+8%3A00am+start+time+is+difficult+to+manage.+But+beyond+being+bothersome%2C+the+early+start+time+may+be+biologically+unfounded+as+well
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School Should Start Later

For many students, North High’s 8:00am start time is difficult to manage. But beyond being bothersome, the early start time may be biologically unfounded as well

For many students, North High’s 8:00am start time is difficult to manage. But beyond being bothersome, the early start time may be biologically unfounded as well

For many students, North High’s 8:00am start time is difficult to manage. But beyond being bothersome, the early start time may be biologically unfounded as well

For many students, North High’s 8:00am start time is difficult to manage. But beyond being bothersome, the early start time may be biologically unfounded as well

Lauren Yu

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Panicked students sprint to the main entrance of Great Neck North High School, checking their phones as the time approaches 8 a.m. Students enter the school with seconds to spare, avoiding the dreaded detention slips but starting the day distracted and unprepared for seven hours of learning.

The reason students have such trouble waking up in the morning and why so many find it difficult to get to school in time for first period could be the inappropriately early school start times, new reports say.

Sleep deprivation is plaguing the lives of teenagers across the country, and North High students are no exception.

Hallways and classrooms are sprinkled with discussions about how little sleep people got last night, and it’s not uncommon to hear someone say that they only slept for five hours, maybe four hours, or maybe not at all.

The National Sleep Foundation recommends that teenagers sleep eight to 10 hours each night for optimal performance, health, and brain development.

However, buried under countless stresses such as school work and extracurriculars, many teenagers fall short of that recommendation, especially when they often have to wake up before the sun even rises.

Sleep deprivation has been proven to lead to a lack of focus in school, according to the Mayo Clinic. This makes it harder for students to keep up with their school work and to learn, which is what they go to school to do in the first place.

Kate Needham, a sophomore who wakes up at 6:20 a.m. on school days, believes that North High should have a later start time.

“If students are less tired, they can focus more in school,” Needham said. 

Katherine Smolens, a sophomore who wakes up at 6:15 a.m. to go to chamber music, agreed with Needham.

“When you go through the schools, like from middle school to high school, it’s easier to transition from an earlier start time to a later start time,” Smolens said. “Teenagers also need more sleep and tend to stay out later, so later school start times would be beneficial.”

Making sure that students sleep enough to not have to race to school last minute would also likely increase safety at the school drop-off zone — an area known for its hecticness by most students and parents in the community.

The student drop-off area is packed with cars on a Thursday morning. The scene is hectic for both pedestrians and drivers racing to get to work and school.

And since many North High upperclassmen drive to school, it’s essential that the safety of these student drivers is prioritized, not to mention the pedestrians rushing across the street to get to school.

Some middle schools and high schools across the country, like the Seattle School District, have adopted later start times. These delayed starts increase the amount of sleep students get and decrease the number of behavioral problems seen at these schools. Later school start times have also resulted in higher graduation and attendance rates, according to Everyday Health.

While many people are in favor of later school start times, some people argue that changing school start times is unnecessary and problematic.

For instance, starting school later would require schools to end later, interfering with clubs, sports, and jobs.

“If after-school activities run late because school ends late, you would have no time for homework,” freshman Renee Zeng said.

Alice Liu, a sophomore, agreed with Zeng.

“I’m honestly fine with school the way it is,” Liu said. “On paper, later school start times sound good, but when you think about everything you need to do, it’s kind of really hard to change.”

Furthermore, some people have argued that excessive caffeine intake in teenagers is to blame for their nocturnal sleeping schedules. And with Deli coffee being a staple for many North High students, this seems like a feasible explanation.

However, research has shown that teenagers are naturally wired to go to sleep and to wake up later. Biological sleep patterns shift as children grow up, making it more difficult for teens to fall asleep before 11 p.m., according to the National Sleep Foundation.

The benefits of starting school later outweigh the drawbacks.

Subsequently, North High students would also benefit from starting school later, as this would accommodate the natural sleeping schedules of teenagers and reduce sleep deprivation in students.