School or Sleep. Why must we choose? | Teen Ink

School or Sleep. Why must we choose?

November 6, 2009
By Urbs2013 BRONZE, Not Listed, New York
Urbs2013 BRONZE, Not Listed, New York
4 articles 2 photos 62 comments

Favorite Quote:
"The tao that can be told
is not the eternal Tao
The name that can be named
is not the eternal Name.

The unnamable is the eternally real.
Naming is the origin
of all particular things."

In a country that is searching for answers as to why its children are not performing at top capacity, it seems fairly obvious that one of those answers may be found in the time at which they start their school day. For any parent who has looked with pity upon their teenage children as they drag themselves, glassy-eyed, and bedraggled, out of bed at 6 AM each day, there is a way to help. Do some deluging of your own and bombard your school board with well-researched pleas for a later start to the high school day. Not only will our students be healthier and more successful at tasks in school, they will become nicer individuals.

The National Center on Sleep Disorders has published studies explaining that once a child goes through puberty, the body’s circadian rhythm changes. An eight or nine year old is physically capable of falling asleep at 9:00 P.M., but a teen over the age of thirteen has already gone through a circadian rhythm shift, in which the natural hormone Melatonin is not released until later at night, leaving them unable to fall asleep until 11:00 P.M. or 12 A.M. This creates the scenario of teens receiving no more than six to six and a half hours of sleep a night, when research shows that they need a minimum of nine to eleven hours. Combine this with the stress of constant testing, heavy course loads, after school clubs, jobs and research internships and you get a very stressed out, unhealthy young ‘next generation.’ Who can blame them for being cranky?

The following list outlines the key points in the debate for a later school day.

Weight Gain: When one goes to sleep early, one produces specific chemicals that inhibit weight loss. The body views sleep loss as stress, and stress encourages people to want to eat carbs, like pasta, bread, or potato chips. Sleep deprivation lowers leptin levels (a chemical which indicates body fat and fullness), and raises ghrelin levels (a chemical which induces hunger and reduces satiation levels). The body reacts in this way because it sees sleep loss as a major source of stress. The association between sleep deprivation and obesity seems to be strongest in young-adults. According to the online library system, GALE, several important studies using nationally representative samples suggest that the obesity problem in the United States might have teen sleep loss as a major factor.

(2) Disease: The health detriment to teens is actually quite frightening. A 1999 study

discovered that 11 healthy students who slept only four hours per night for six nights showed insulin and blood sugar levels similar to those of people "on the verge of diabetes." Equally impressive studies demonstrate rise in heart disease and blood pressure in young people who are sleep deprived.

Better Grades: lack of sleep affects a student’s cognitive state, making it difficult to focus on the details of a class, and adversely affecting memory. Studies have shown that schools who moved their start times from 7:30 A.M. to 8:10 A.M., and especially those schools whose days begin at 9:00 AM, have noticeably better and more alert students. In these schools, 90% of the student populous move up a full grade, and those who are already in the A-range become more energetic and creative. (APA Monitor) Apparently the high level thinking that becomes impaired with sleep loss returns with an extra one and a half to two hours of sleep.

This should not be surprising as numerous studies from medical schools like the University of California at San Diego (2000) have determined that the brains of otherwise healthy teens had to work harder to achieve less when sleep-deprived.

In the year that the new high school schedule was implemented for the schools involved in the above study, teachers found that more of the curriculum was able to be taught in a single period. Even the teachers themselves seemed more involved and animated, according to an anonymous survey. After all, teaching is partially a performance art, and a performer can only be as good as his or her audience. If people in the audience are sleeping, it cuts down on some of the performer’s enthusiasm!

Sports: Sleep is a natural steroid. It boosts stamina and energy, but best of all, it doesn’t hurt the body like anabolic steroids. The more sleep someone gets, the more likely they are to succeed, and even excel in sports. Imagine what nine hours a night could do for the high school football team?

Personality: As someone who has personally experienced this debilitating loss of sleep, I can safely say that on the days when I lose a lot of sleep, I am a very grumpy and unapproachable individual.

Parents and teachers say that they want teens to communicate with them, but high school students are communicating on a daily basis: through their anxiety, frustration, constant colds and illness, short tempers, and need for isolation—just to recuperate from battling an exhausting day on six hours of sleep. The Government is so concerned about keeping students in school for more hours—how about allowing teens to begin their school day more rested so they can perform in a more focused, energetic manner? 9:00 A.M. –it’s such a nice round number.

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This article has 320 comments.

Geo2013 said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 7:11 am
And another point for Dallas! We're with ya. We've been complaining about the hours for years but get no where because the administration wants the little kids to have an older sibling home when they get there. They forget one vital point...most of our high school students stay after for extra help or clubs and don't get home till around 4 PM anyway. Ridiculous.

friartuck said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 7:08 am
Westport is on your side as well. Let's hear it for Connecticut! Tell us how to sign.

windylane11 said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:51 am
Let's hear it for Rhode Island! We want a 9 AM school start! Better sleep, better students, less sick students, less grumpy students.

sandman said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:48 am
More Rhode Island. We're going to bring your article to our principal and beg for mercy! Rock on!

Texan2012 said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:46 am
Yes sir, count us in for Dallas too. Our writing class goes on line for the first 10 minutes every period and reads and reviews the articles. We like yours, and agree. start time for high school is an issue everywhere in this country.

mossman said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:45 am
Hey, the times on the comments are off by an hour...I guess the clock on the site never went to daylight savings time. Anyway, we're with you in Atlanta. Let's get something going with high school hours.

dariaisle said...
on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:43 am
My creative writing class is looking at your article right now and cheering! If you get in touch with me, I'll get them all to sign the petition too. Rhode Island Power!

on Dec. 14 2009 at 6:41 am
Yes, great article, good research, and it speaks to all of us in high school. You can count me in as well.

Caitysays said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 10:45 pm
Oh please make that petition. I don't know how I'll last the year as a junior with 3 hours of sleep each night. What will happen to us when we get to may with all the exams? It gives me insomnia just thinking about it. Pleas write a letter!

on Dec. 13 2009 at 1:33 pm
SpaceKing800 GOLD, Glen Rock, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 228 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry"- Maria Mitchell

To understand how Urbs and I have a similar view point, stop by over to my article "The Homework Revolution". Our essays together are the fuel to this revolution.

randibru said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 1:04 pm
Me too! I'll be signing.

alexpanda said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:56 pm
Count me in! I'm Nora's friend and I'll get at least 15 people to sign. Post a comment when you guys begin.

noradoll said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:55 pm
Great that you guys have gotten it together. You'll have a whole lot of people signing that petition.

on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:50 pm
SpaceKing800 GOLD, Glen Rock, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 228 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry"- Maria Mitchell

Great! Over the break, Urbs and I are writing a letter to the editor.

noradoll said...
on Dec. 13 2009 at 12:18 am
We're ready. You guys just have to tell us when we give you our names and states to list on the petition over the break. We're ready for some action.

on Dec. 12 2009 at 11:59 am
SpaceKing800 GOLD, Glen Rock, New Jersey
15 articles 0 photos 228 comments

Favorite Quote:
"We especially need imagination in science. It is not all mathematics, nor all logic, but is somewhat beauty and poetry"- Maria Mitchell


suzieq said...
on Dec. 12 2009 at 11:41 am
Hey, can your next article be about the farce behind high schools making kids take APs galore so they can get the money for them? The colleges don't care whether you take 3 or 8...they don't give you credit for half of them anyway. Can you uncover this story?

augustmoon said...
on Dec. 12 2009 at 11:39 am
Do you think any teachers come onto these sites and read them? If they do, I have a message for you, especially the AP teachers. Please keep in mind that most of us in yor classes wind upo getitng 4s or 5s anyway, just because we're that motivated to study for them, so why do you feel the need to throw essay tests at us every week on top of assignments? Do you think that by doing one essay a month we'd lose our 5? It makes us stay up for at least 3 nights a week studying till 2 AM to ace your tests, and then we're exhausted for every other course. Sign me up with this petition.

SharaO said...
on Dec. 12 2009 at 11:36 am
Yep, as a junior in high school, I couldn't agree with you more. The truth is, I'd like to see the teachers make it through one week in our shoes, with 4 APs and after school activities, and charity work, and Saturday programs. When are we supposed to ever make up the sleep? 9AM sounds just right.

grantwriter said...
on Dec. 12 2009 at 10:36 am
The president of our class at school asked the whole student gov group to read your article. It's great and we want to help by signing the petition. There are 8 of us, and when you get it going, do a posting and we'll sign.