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.

on Dec. 6 2011 at 9:43 am
ok....i thank that school some not change because kids these day go to bad like 12:00 at night and when they wake up to go to bed then they complain about how tired they are. just go to bed earlier!!!!!!!!   

on Nov. 15 2011 at 4:59 pm
if i went to school i would know? um, excuse you, but maybe if YOU went to school you could put together a proper sentence. i didnt even understand half of what you replied.

on Nov. 15 2011 at 3:19 am
lioness_210 BRONZE, VADODARA, Other
1 article 0 photos 15 comments
well this is called tech tongue... only if ud been 2 school u wud noe... i have pitty on u...

on Nov. 15 2011 at 3:17 am
lioness_210 BRONZE, VADODARA, Other
1 article 0 photos 15 comments
oh well dis is call d "tech tongue"... only if u wud have attended school u wud noe... neways i wud rather say u p[ick up a dictionary first... u noe 4 starters...

on Nov. 14 2011 at 9:32 pm
i would rather school start at 10 and then get out at 5, as opposed to it starting at 7 and then getting out at 2. i stay up until late anyways, so waking up later would be nice, and getting home later wouldnt make any difference to me personally b/c like i said, im up late either way.

on Nov. 14 2011 at 9:30 pm
do you know how to  spell? or speak english? because that might be helpful.

on Oct. 1 2011 at 3:14 pm
lioness_210 BRONZE, VADODARA, Other
1 article 0 photos 15 comments
sounds informative... i liked it... but lukng at it practicly... i wud radr say dat difrnt ppl hv difrnt viewz... as long as u luv going 2 skul... evrythng suits nd flz in plc... SKUL ROCKZ!!! u get all ur frndz, exposure nd knowldge dere... ;D

on Sep. 9 2011 at 6:42 pm
callie15 BRONZE, North Plains, Oregon
3 articles 21 photos 424 comments

Favorite Quote:
"I dreamed I was a butterfly, flitting around in the sky; then I awoke. Now I wonder: Am I a man who dreamt of being a butterfly, or am I a butterfly dreaming that I am a man?"
-Chuang Tzu

"No man with a good car needs to be justified!"
-Wise Blood

Hmm, well my school starts at 8:30 and ends at 3:30, and I've never had a problem with it. I think that some people naturally need more sleep than others, and I guess I don't need a lot. I thtink the only thing wrong with your idea is it takes away from your worktime. If you start school fairly early and end fairly early, you have enough time afterwords to finish your homework. If it starts an hour later, it takes an hour away from your worktime, and if your classes are like mine, you get a lot. Still, sleep is very important and we should try to get as much as possible, even though it can be hard sometimes :)

on Aug. 20 2011 at 6:21 pm
CraftyCinamatic SILVER, Ponte Vedra, Florida
7 articles 0 photos 9 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Fall in love? I'd rather fall in chocolate"

- Me :D

my school begins at 9:15 whereas my younger siblings at 8:30. But as other people are commenting, it's not ALL great. I get out of school an entire hour later!

Duckie14 said...
on Jul. 31 2011 at 8:11 pm
I love the idea, but pushing back the school makes ending later too. I think the best solution is ban busy work that some teachers give that take hours fromt eh work you actually need to do. But overall, so well written and it is a fantastic argument... Keep building!!!

abridge BRONZE said...
on Jul. 29 2011 at 5:37 pm
abridge BRONZE, Durham, North Carolina
1 article 0 photos 11 comments

I think the point isn't whether it is possible or not to survive on 6 or less hours of sleep, the point is that everyone has different needs and abilities.  If so many people are having trouble with 6 hours of sleep, then that is worth talking about, and maybe changing something. 

By the way, fantastic article!  Very informative.

on Jul. 27 2011 at 4:47 pm
DefyGravity123 BRONZE, Park Ridge, Illinois
3 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Everything is possible. The impossible just takes longer." ~Dan Brown

This was a really well-written article, but I have to say I disagree with your point of view. My high school starts at 7:45, and I get up at 6 every morning. I'd be okay with starting at 8:45, but that would mean getting out at 4:15. In addition, I do sports at my school, and pushing the school day an hour back would push practices back an hour as well. Normally, during the season, practice ends at 6, and I'm usually home by 6:20, which is a bit stressful, but doable with all my homework. With your solution, I wouldn't get home till 7:20 at least. 

Starting the school day later would cause my peers and I more stress, because we wouldn't have nearly as much time to complete our homework. I generally get a lot of homework, but I deal with it, and so has everyone else until now. I'll admit, I'm a huge fan of sleep, but the downsides far outweigh the benefits. 

I don't know if this matters, but this comment is from a straight-A honor student with chronic insomnia.

soldout said...
on Jul. 27 2011 at 4:26 pm

Price tag for piece above ;D -

$Interesting. Well-written

aaliona SILVER said...
on Jul. 27 2011 at 4:26 pm
aaliona SILVER, Spencer, Iowa
5 articles 2 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Morning is a new sheet of paper for you to write on." ~Eve Merriam

I agree with this, and you've included studies and facts to back you up. A popular saying at my high school is, "Sleep? What's sleep?" Our principal had even said he would love for school to run from 9:30-4:30 instead of 8:30-3:30.

Erik said...
on Jul. 27 2011 at 9:53 am
I agree that this persuasive contains some well researched ideas.  I like how you suggested a later start time for adolescents.  This solution would provide for some extra time in the mornings for sleep or other activities.  People are more agreeable after a good night sleep.

Belac77 said...
on Jul. 27 2011 at 8:10 am
Yep, I agree. But nothing is going to change sadly.

on Jul. 15 2011 at 4:35 pm
PaperIdeas BRONZE, Houston, Texas
1 article 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"…because nerds like us are allowed to be unironically enthusiastic about stuff… Nerds are allowed to love stuff, like jump-up-and-down-in-the-chair-can’t-control-yourself love it. Hank, when people call people nerds, mostly what they’re saying is ‘you like stuff.’ Which is just not a good insult at all. Like, ‘you are too enthusiastic about the miracle of human consciousness’

Great article! I was wondering why I couldn't fall asleep at 9:00 anymore...Thanks!

ausomness said...
on May. 9 2011 at 4:50 pm
a good way to get some more sleep is 2 go 2 bed earlier i wake up at 5 and go to bed at 8 i know you probobly dont fell tierd then but if u listen to soft music youll fell tied right away

on May. 8 2011 at 5:47 pm
Inkslinger BRONZE, Chattanooga, Oklahoma
2 articles 0 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.' We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There's nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we're liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others."--Marianne Williamson

This makes so much sense! My school doesn't start until 8:10, and I can imagine what having to start schol at 7:30 would to to my grades and attitude.


on Apr. 30 2011 at 10:09 pm
ZeeBYoung BRONZE, Coatesville, Pennsylvania
3 articles 0 photos 72 comments

Favorite Quote:
Don't judge a person until you've walked a mile in their shoes. That way, you're a mile away from them, and you have their shoes. :)

.... wow, I think I love you. No seriously, I have a sleep problem, and I HATE having to go to school on 4 hrs... this should be published.