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Sleep, Who Needs It?

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Do you know anyone who is always stressed, struggles in remembering things, has trouble concentrating, is always hungry, makes bad decisions, and is extremely moody? They are either on drugs or are sleep deprived. Sleep deprivation is very common in high school students. Some stay up all night cramming for a big exam, while others are just watching TV. The National Sleep Foundation did studies to show that, "Teens need about 9 1/4 hours of sleep each night to function best (for some, 8 1/2 hours is enough). Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15% reported sleeping 8 1/2 hours on school nights (National Sleep Foundation)." In fact, a majority of high school students get less than 7 hours of sleep every night! Studies show that the amount of sleep students get, affects their grades in school. If a teen stays up studying or doing homework until 1AM, people will probably think, "Wow! What a hard worker. She must do well in school." Well, sadly that isn't always true. When a person doesn't get a lot of sleep, one of the effects that occurs is memory loss. The student could have studied for hours, but while taking the test have a brain fart! They could be so tired that they just can't remember what they spent so much time studying. Sleep deprivation is caused by too much homework and early school start times, but can be stopped by schools starting later or having every Wednesday be a half day.

Most high school bells ring between 7:00am and 7:30am to signal the start of a new school day. This means that students need to wake up around 6:00am or 6:30am to ensure that they will be ready and at school on time. Some (mainly girls) wake up as early as 5:30am to take showers and do their hair and makeup. For a student to get the full nine hours of sleep that they need to be fully alert in class, they would need to go to sleep around 8:30pm, which normally doesn't happen. Most kids have after school activities such as being on a high school sport's team.These kids have practice or a game everyday after school and most don't get home until around 6:00pm. If they have an away game, they could be out until as late as 8:00pm, depending on the distance. That leaves them with half and hour before they should get to bed, but how are they supposed to do all of their homework, study, eat dinner, and take a shower all in 30 minutes? It just can't be done. Even on days when student athletes get home at 6:00pm, they are only left 2 1/2 hours. This might be enough time to do the above actions, but not if the students have a big test the next day because they would need to cram. That would just leave them stressed and in hysterics. This happened to me before and I completely broke down crying because I was so tired, and no matter how much I studied, the information wasn't clicking; I wasn't able to remember much of it. High schools start too early and the amount of homework students need to finish every night is overwhelming.

The solution to this is simple. HIGH SCHOOL CLASSES SHOULD START LATER. If we pushed start times from 7:00 to 8:30, kids would get a whole hour and a half more of sleep. That means that instead of kids getting 5 hours of sleep, they could get 6 1/2, or more. Kids might look at the extra time as an opportunity to do most of their homework at night, but be able to finish in the morning. This would lift the weight of stress off of their shoulders, letting them fall asleep more easily. You may think that if the start time were pushed kids would stay up even later to do their homework. This is unlikely to happen because the students would have less stress on their shoulders, making it so that they get thier homework done in a well planned time schedule. Studies show that in schools with later start times' students have better results grade wise than schools that start earlier. Two schools in the Minneapolis area school district changed their start times to 8:30am and eventually learned that because of this, "there was a significant reduction in school dropout rates, less depression, and students reported earning higher grades" (University of Minnesota). Students tend to still be in "sleep mode" for the first two hours of school, because they should really still be sleeping. By pushing the start times later, students are more likely to be awake and alert, ready for the new day. If bus schedules in a town make pushing the start times impossible, then the town should make every Wednesday a half day. Not a half day that ends early, but one that starts late. The town should start every Wednesdays school day around 11am and end it at the time they would for a normal day. Since, Wednesday is in the middle of the week, it acts as a break for students. By making it a half day, kids get one day in the middle of the week to sleep in. This would allow them to catch up with some of the sleep that they lost during Monday and Tuesday. As for Thursday and Friday, that sleep is made up over the weekend. In order for high school kids to perform to the best of their ability in school, the start time for schools needs to be made later, or every Wednesday needs to be a late starting half day.

Most schools start around 7-7:30am, and really need to start changing their start times. These schools' students could do so much better in school and get more out of their classes if they got enough sleep! The reasons students don't get enough sleep is because schools start too early and they are expected to be able to finish too much homework. Students often get stressed by the amount of homework they have and stay up all night working on it. Then, they need to wake up at 6am, too, so that they won't miss the bus. Students who don't get enough sleep, often turn to drugs and/or alcohol. You don't want that to happen to your kids one day, do you? Therefore, schools should start later or have every Wednesday be a half day so kids can catch up on sleep.


Sources:





Duval, Sylviane. "Most High School Students Are Sleep Deprived." Phys Org. Health Behavior News Service, 5 Jan. 2010. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. http://phys.org/news181935125.html.





"Later Start TImes for High School Students." University of Minnesota. N.p., June 2002. Web. 18 Oct. 2012. http://www.cehd.umn.edu/research/highlights/Sleep/.





Scheve, Tom. "10 Signs You May Be Sleep Deprived." Discovery Fit & Health. N.p., n.d. Web. 19 Oct. 2012. http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/disorders/10-signs-you-may-be-sleep-deprived10.htm.





Sebastian. "An Examination of Time Distributions and Their Impact on Student Exam Effectiveness." Voice of America. N.p., 7 May 2012. Web. 20 Oct. 2012. http://health.howstuffworks.com/mental-health/sleep/disorders/10-signs-you-may-be-sleep-deprived10.htm.





"Teens and Sleep." National Sleep Foundation. N.p., n.d. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/sleep-topics/teens-and-sleep.





Young, Scott. "My Story for His Glory." My Story for His Glory. Blogspot, 15 Mar. 2012. Web. 21 Oct. 2012. http://scottyoungpsalm37.blogspot.com/.



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