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 Mar. 27 2011 at 10:40 pm
kisekinya BRONZE, Kailua, Hawaii
2 articles 4 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Most people learn by observation, and there are the few who learn by experimentation. And then there are those who actually TOUCH the fire to see if it's really hot." -Anonymous (I am one of those people XD)

But where would they get the money for this sort of thing? How much can you pay a child to get good grades? And with that many children in a grade, the amount of money needed will grow. I'm all for getting money for an A, but how reasonable is it?

on Mar. 27 2011 at 10:37 pm
kisekinya BRONZE, Kailua, Hawaii
2 articles 4 photos 21 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Most people learn by observation, and there are the few who learn by experimentation. And then there are those who actually TOUCH the fire to see if it's really hot." -Anonymous (I am one of those people XD)

I agree with everything you said here! A teen shouldn't have to loose sleep, especialy over school! Teachers tell us to get a good nights sleep the day before a test, and yet, they give us loads of homework! My teachers also tell us each time before a test to get a good breakfast... but with the homework the night before causing sleep deprivation, how can I wake up early enough?

Megs23 SILVER said...
on Mar. 9 2011 at 8:07 pm
Megs23 SILVER, Lake Katrine, New York
5 articles 0 photos 6 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Don't take the shit that people give you. Throw it back in their faces." -Anonymous <3

I totally agree with everything you said. I am in middle school and the school day starts at 8am and I have to get up at 6. Everyone at my school is always complaining about hpw tired they are and many people have gone to the principle about it but they don't listen. We tried everything.

on Feb. 10 2011 at 5:32 pm
Hawthorn BRONZE, Nowheresville, Maine
3 articles 0 photos 55 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Know Thy Enemy" Sun Tzu

Hmm. Sports are a big thing where I live so a better/taller basketball team should motivate them like nothing else.

Nokidding said...
on Feb. 5 2011 at 11:28 am
Sounds like a good idea. Cash for high grades? On the other hand, it's such a sad state of affairs in our country when educators who are supposed to be on our side and leading us to new intellectual heights have to bribe us to learn.

Icy96 said...
on Feb. 3 2011 at 11:08 am
Excellent job, this was incredibly well-written. I think I'm going to show your article to my school board. Here in Chicago, there are schools that are literally paying students cash money for high grades, so I think the school board would listen if we proposed this kind of change. Thank you for writing this, and please continue to do so ;)

on Feb. 3 2011 at 10:26 am
SomethingLikeFire BRONZE, Mchenry, Illinois
1 article 1 photo 47 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Pippin: What about elevenses? Luncheon? Afternoon tea? Dinner? Supper? He knows about them, doesn't he?" -
-- The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship Of The Ring

its also proven that the more u sleep, that taller u grow. u grow mainly when u sleep so if u sleep more u will grow a lot taller

on Feb. 2 2011 at 8:18 pm
This was so well-written! I did a project on this-if only we'd found this information before! Yes, I highly agree with you: we need more sleep. I do think that you could strengthen your sports point more, but everything else seems really well-researched and thought out. Great job!

Figuresk8757 said...
on Feb. 2 2011 at 6:39 pm
I'm sorry but i took AP Euro last year as a sophomore and i got a 4 on the exam. I didn't stress and heck i didn't even study that much. I finished with a B+ in the class and a 4 on the exam. I also balance all of that with being a nationally ranked figure skater, like im ranked number 2. My advice, just dont stress and your grade will improve. It isn't about how much time you study its the quality of studying. Less time but more awake will yield better results.

on Feb. 2 2011 at 4:01 pm
carstorm SILVER, Harrisonburg, Virginia
6 articles 2 photos 16 comments

Favorite Quote:
"One who has done nothing can not criticize one who has done little"

I agree with this well though out essay. I wish the world (or at least all of the US) would see this and take action.

on Feb. 2 2011 at 1:27 pm
EmilyMichelle PLATINUM, Manassas, Virginia
33 articles 4 photos 90 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Our truest responsibility to the irrationality of the world is to paint or sing or write, for only in such response do we find the truth."
- Madeleine L'Engle

Thomsays, this is NOT ridiculous and not neccesarily true. I know a girl whose schedule is entirely IB classes (which many people consider harder than AP) and whose overall schedule sounds much like Babygirl809's and she has straight A's and several leadership positions. I don't know how Babygirl809 is doing in her classes but it's not "ridiculous." You sound very self-satisfied in saying "those of us taking the top track and trying to lead at the same time." Maybe Babygirl809 has leadership positions and she just hasn't chosen to share them with you or maybe she doesn't enjoy leading.

Coriander said...
on Feb. 2 2011 at 11:44 am
Yes! A Student Sleep Revolution! Let's do it!

JackBean said...
on Feb. 2 2011 at 11:43 am
Yes, do it! Make a committee of kids and make an appointment with your administration. You can do this with enough people on board. Our school just agreed to change the start time for next year from 7:30 to 8:30am. Woohooo! It happened because kids were bombarding school board meetings and protesting. These teachers cannot control themselves with giving us constant tests and projects, so we have to take things into our own hands.

on Feb. 2 2011 at 11:39 am

I love this essay! It is so researched and persuasive. Great job!

I wish I could show this to my school's superintendent! I wish teachers would understand how serious this is and that their students could do so much better if we started the school day AT LEAST an hour later than usual. I hope school's start doing that in the near future. I mean, its scientifically proven and other schools ARE doing it with great results, why isn't everyone else jumping on the band wagon?!

Spenser BRONZE said...
on Feb. 2 2011 at 10:26 am
Spenser BRONZE, Amawalk, New York
1 article 0 photos 7 comments
Oh my God, THANK YOU! I suffer from serious sleep issues on school days and my parents want me to get better grades. If schools would start later, things would be a lot better!

on Feb. 2 2011 at 8:16 am
forgottenpenname GOLD, Troy, Michigan
12 articles 0 photos 147 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Carpe diem."

Every point you make here is amazing... the kids at my school have been trying to convince the teachers to complain that we should start later for years, but they haven't been able to because they thought that there was no scientific proof backing us up, but hey -- look -- now there is! :D

I'm a high school junior who takes two APs and an honors class and participates heavily in the theatre company, NHS, church activities, and takes voice and guitar lessons. For a while, I was also taking acting and piano, but the load just got too much for me to handle. I'd kill to be able to add track in on top of that... I love running, but I've just never had the energy to do it as a sport.

I get between two and seven hours of sleep every night and I start to fall asleep while doing homework around 7 PM, most days. If we could start school later, it would be a God sent!

on Feb. 2 2011 at 5:55 am
Jakethesnake SILVER, Hernando, Mississippi
6 articles 0 photos 96 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Read, Read... Read everything, then write."-William Faulkner

Jeez, I have to get up at five and grab a coffee. This and maybe an extra month of school would be a good idea. We should model it off of China, who is higher up on the scale than us. Also, we have to push our society to not focus on entertainment, but rather school. If we can do that, we may have a chance to catch back up. Trust me, I definitely do not want China or any other country to be said better than the U.S. I don't care what it's in- school, economy, military, or anything else.

on Feb. 2 2011 at 2:33 am
sunshine04 BRONZE, Vindhyanagar, Other
1 article 3 photos 253 comments

its so cool you all have ap classes 

here every physics teacher is useless 

i have a great interest in ap 

if i have to stay all night i 'll do

and the sleep problem is very true my friends feel sleepy at 9 pm 

actually i am night owl

on Feb. 1 2011 at 8:32 pm
xJuneBugx BRONZE, Plymouth, Massachusetts
1 article 0 photos 14 comments
well researched, good arguement!! i want to show this article to my school board! ... i would write more, but i should probably get to bed.... :)

nena said...
on Jan. 31 2011 at 2:49 pm
good point. (: