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You groggily reach over to your nightstand to turn off your alarm clock that is screaming in your ear.
Wake up! Wake up and get to school! You don't want to be late! it seems to be hollering to you.
I don't want to, you think to yourself. It's only six-o'-clock in the morning. I am exhausted. How will I ever stay awake and concentrate in class?
Most teens are forced to get up six in the morning or earlier to get to school on time. Many students have to really force themselves out of bed that early in the morning. For example, 78% of the 280 high school students surveyed at Harriton High School in Philadelphia said that it was difficult to get up early in the morning for school. If so many teens would benefit from more sleep, why not push school back an hour to give them that benefit?
Who wouldn't want to improve their alertness and concentration in class? The 80 school districts that pushed the start times of their schools back an hour saw amazing results, such as improved attendance. The reason? Teens are getting closer to their nine hours of sleep that is required. They are more awake, and can be more alert in school. They'll never learn anything if they're practically falling asleep in class! In fact, 20% of high school students fall asleep in class on a typical day! Students are losing out on a lot of learning every day, and that needs to stop!
Teens' bodies aren't accustomed to going to bed early and getting up early. They don't even get tired until around midnight. According to the National Sleep Foundation, teens are sleepy in the morning because their melatonin (a sleep improving hormone) levels don't fall until eight-o'-clock in the morning. If school was pushed back an hour from the regular 7:30 starting time, that would give teens enough time to fully wake up for school. This is just one of the many reasons that later school starting times are beneficial.
Did you know that pushing back school start times an hour is a lot safer for teens? That it can save lives? Well you better start believing, because it's true! A study in the Journal of Clinical Sleep Medicine shows that a one hour school delay increases teen sleeping hours, and teens therefore get in less car crashes driving to school. An improved memory, a better mood, reduced depression, and better judgment are some other benefits that come with later school starts.
Many students are reporting positive feedback because their school starting times were pushed back. For example, Andrea Kemme from Edina High School in Minnesota is thrilled that her school's start time is now 8:25 instead of 7:30. Let's let her tell you about how she feels: “I'm so much more alert in class; it's unbelievable. I would not change back. It's much better to be awake.” That just about sums it up, now doesn't it?
Some students and adults worry about scheduling changes. They fret about sports and transportation costs. Reasonable concerns, but they are nothing to fear. Some districts have handled the changed bus schedules with no additional costs. The West Des Moines School District in Iowa was even able to reduce the amount of buses by pushing back the school starting times an hour in their whole school system.
Isn't it odd that all schools haven't pushed back their starting times? I mean, not pushing back school starting times an hour means bad news for the students. Impaired learning, depression, sleepiness, and unsafe driving are only the start of all the bad things that are happening. That doesn't sound like a good time to me!
It's up to you now. Let your principals know about this issue, so that they can take action! Write letters, talk to your principal in the hall, make announcements, and try anything else that you think will help this important matter become reality for your school. Get started right away; it's for your own good!