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School Light Savings

Tonight I have homework, in almost every subject. I get home after practice and have to do chores, eat dinner, and baby-sit my nephew; as well as do all this homework. By the time I’m done it’s around 10:30 p.m. I call my boyfriend to say goodnight, and when I’m finally ready to go to sleep it’s around 11:00 p.m. which isn’t uncommon for a junior in high school.
I turn around and do it all again, starting my school day by getting up at 6:30 a.m. So, in turn, that leaves me with around seven hours of sleep when according to the National Sleep Foundation or NSF, a student of my age should get at least nine hours. I’m in a vicious cycle of sleep deprivation, which may cause an adolescent to become stressed and start doing worse in school. If we are being sent to school to improve our education, we should start school later so that we are fully awake and can engage with the teachers and in class discussions.
Mary A. Carskadon, PhD, Director of E.P. Bradley Hospital Research Laboratory and professor in Department of Psychiatry and Human Behavior at Brown University School of Medicine agrees with me, “If teens need about nine and a quarter hours of sleep to do their best, and naturally go to sleep around 11:00 pm, one way to get more sleep is to start school later.”

My school starts at 7:55. This may be due to parent’s work schedules, bus routes, teachers, and extra curricular activities, but I don’t see why we couldn’t do all this at nine or ten instead of how my school does it. Bus routes could be changed, parents could still go to work and rely on the bus to get their children, teachers wouldn’t mind sleeping in that extra hour either, and the students can still do their extra curricular activities after school. “Sleep isn’t a priority for teenagers, and it typically isn’t made one by parents or schools either," states Jodi Mindell, PhD, Director of Graduate Program in Psychology, St. Joseph’s University and Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. An ideal time for school would be like any job, nine to five. Then students would make the sleep they need a priority and as well as getting their biological clocks ready for the work force.

“Teens tend to have irregular sleep patterns across the week — they typically stay up late and sleep in late on the weekends, which can affect their biological clocks and hurt the quality of their sleep,” says Kyla Boyse, R.N. from the University of Michigan.

Changes were made in Minneapolis, Minnesota after the Minnesota Medical Association issued a 1993 resolution, Sleep Deprivation in Adolescents, based on the research that puberty resets teens’ internal biological clocks. The school’s schedule was changed from a day that started at 7:15 a.m. and went to 1:45 p.m. to 8:40 a.m. to 3:20 p.m. These changes resulted in improved attendance, an increase in continuous enrollment, less tardiness, and students making fewer trips to the school nurse.
The Center for Applied Research and Educational Improvement (CAREI) at the University of Minnesota conducted a study on the impact of changing school start times on academic performance. Over a three year period they saw a lot of improvements and the teachers said “Students seemed more alert in class, improvements in student behavior, with a calmer atmosphere in the hallways and cafeteria, and fewer disciplinary referrals to the principal.”
As I sit here, doing my homework, I envy the kids in Minnesota. It may be just an hour later, yet that hour does the students a lot of good. It could improve our lives too.





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