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.

sicilia SILVER said...
on Jan. 15 2011 at 5:39 pm
sicilia SILVER, Apex, North Carolina
6 articles 2 photos 7 comments

Favorite Quote:
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life. (Wintson Churchill)

i love the topic of this! it's so true. the organizations a little awkward, but otherwise great article!

pumpkin1997 said...
on Jan. 11 2011 at 10:06 am
This is amazing. I love all the facts, and this should really be a good eye opener

1617almost said...
on Jan. 10 2011 at 3:32 pm
1617almost, Ukiah, California
0 articles 0 photos 26 comments
The government should not give us longer hours but if they do they should not change the hour we start because then we would be in school all day and have nothing else to do. We as teens need a lot of sleep and many of use are not even getting to sleep at least 8 hours we sleep about 5 to 6 hours and we go to school restless. Teachers should go easier on home work assignments because that takes sleeping time from us causing more stress. But my main point is that I don't want the government to give us more school hours!!!! :/

on Jan. 10 2011 at 10:59 am
XxWhisperMeTruthxX BRONZE, Limington, Maine
2 articles 0 photos 3 comments

Favorite Quote:
"Tis but a flesh wound!!

Ok. I get your point and I know. But I'm 14 and I run a business to support my parents. I have 30 cows and around 20 goats and assorted other animals. Every morning they need to be fed and watered. I DO ALL OF IT ALONE! 12 cows and 6 goats need to be milked morning and night. I get up at 3:30 to finish this and get on the bus by 6:12. My school starts at 7 and gets out at 1:40. I know that alot of you are complaining about "unreasonable times" to get up but 3:30? At age 14? Come on guys. It's really not that bad. I don't even think 3:30 is that bad. In my opinion, it's a mindset. If you are motivated and WANT to do things, you will and you maybe tired but you don't complain. Thanks! =]

Thomsays said...
on Jan. 3 2011 at 10:39 am
This is ridiculous. If you barely sleep you may be taking AP classes (though you don't say how many) but you can't be doing very well in them. You also don't mention any leadership position. That's a whole other story. many of us have organizations, clubs, newspapers and businesses to run. So the moralizing doesn't work for those of us taking the top track and trying to elad at the same time.

carlie said...
on Jan. 3 2011 at 10:36 am
This is a really good point.

fatboy said...
on Jan. 3 2011 at 6:44 am
you my friend, are my hero.

Olivia7 BRONZE said...
on Dec. 20 2010 at 4:54 pm
Olivia7 BRONZE, Cavecreek, Arizona
3 articles 0 photos 9 comments
Yeah, teens really are on the low end of the scale. People are always wondering why teens are so grumpy and stubborn, but the answer is staring them right in the face. We need more sleep!!! Teens are still kids and need their own free time.

on Dec. 19 2010 at 4:03 pm
Babygirl809 SILVER, Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri
8 articles 3 photos 19 comments
I have a solution...DONT TAKE AP CLASSES!!! if u cant handle it. I get up at 5:30 schools starts at 7:30. I take Advanced and AP classes. I am in 6 clubs. I do basketball, golf, and softball. I have to cook, do the dishes and clean the house. I volunteer at several places and work at the commissary. I barely sleep during the week but hey Its a competitive world you have to keep if you want to go to a good school and have a good career. 

on Dec. 7 2010 at 4:43 pm
Imaginedangerous PLATINUM, Riverton, Utah
31 articles 0 photos 402 comments
On the flip side, school wouldn't get out until four or five. 

on Dec. 6 2010 at 7:35 am
love this article alot

Tallie said...
on Nov. 27 2010 at 5:05 pm
Agreed. Is anyone else here taking AP Euro this year? There are maybe only a dozen kids in my whole town, Sebastopol, who take it. This course should come with a label: you will have no life at any time during the year if you choose this road. It's courses like this that keep most of us up till 2am studying.

on Nov. 27 2010 at 4:07 pm
ya it's tough. but i pull through. the main reason i agree with this article is because when the week finally ends, i sleep for twelve whole hours that night.

on Nov. 26 2010 at 1:54 pm
WindDancer GOLD, Lexington, Kentucky
10 articles 3 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's time to start living the life you've imagined"
- Henry James

"I read to escape, I write to confront."

The only problem I would have with starting school later is that then we would get out later. But, then again, my whole afternoon is wasted with homework and studying- ever noticed how Friday Night feels like its own seperate day? Because we aren't as stressed about school. Sometimes it feels like school takes up my whole life.

on Nov. 26 2010 at 1:52 pm
WindDancer GOLD, Lexington, Kentucky
10 articles 3 photos 77 comments

Favorite Quote:
"It's time to start living the life you've imagined"
- Henry James

"I read to escape, I write to confront."

My goodness! I feel for you. You're only in eight grade. You should be enjoying yourself more :)

And you DEFINITLY shouldn't be worrying about college.

onelonelyx said...
on Oct. 18 2010 at 11:32 pm
Yes, but when does your school get out?

nygrl126 said...
on Oct. 17 2010 at 11:02 pm
When I saw this comment I had to reply. Thank You!!! Finally someone who understands. My bus also comes around 6:30 (6:34) and my school starts at 7:15. Thanks for sticking up for the small minority of us who really have to get up early.

hiiii said...
on Oct. 17 2010 at 8:26 am
Shut up.  you have got it sooooo much better than us.  Get up at 10?!?!?!?! Omg you just wanna rub it in don't you?  You suck man

BballRox123 said...
on Oct. 17 2010 at 8:23 am
There are so many of you saying "Oh I have to get up at 6"  and "I can't take it my school starts at 8:30".  I am 15 years old.  My school starts at 7:15.  My bus comes at 6:30.  And I have to get up at 5:15.  So while your all whining like babies about getting up at 6, think about me.  You have got it good.  ANd one more thing.  Guy who said they are homeschooled, you have got it way better than us.  So shut up.  Thank you:)

Alexis said...
on Oct. 16 2010 at 11:28 pm
I agree. I can't fall asleep till 12 or 1 am and i have to wake up at 6 for school. My school is 8-3 and its a high school.  I wake up and I am still exhausted. I have 7 classes and am up late doing hw. I think they need to give us one day a week where we can catch up and take it easy. Yes we have the weekend but we are usually doing chores or going to work. We need time to. Yes we are younger then the older adults but we have stress to.