By Anelisa Holder I Co-Editor
There has been a lot of talk among sleep experts about the advantages of starting middle and high schools later in the day.
Research shows that teenagers need more sleep than any other age group.
According to a National Sleep Foundation study, adolescents need 9.25 hours of sleep on average.
However, most teenagers are getting less than 7 hours and are going to bed at 11:00pm or later.
Experts say that sleep deprivation can lead to serious issues including behavioral problems, depression, and reduced performance in academics and sports.
After the school day ends, middle and high school students have a multitude of activities to do, including sports, homework, jobs, and chores.
With all of these responsibilities, it’s hard to get enough sleep.
Some students wake up as early as 5:00am; so it is easy to see why sleep deprivation is inevitable.
Experts say that school shouldn’t start earlier than 8:00am.
They suggest starting the school day at 10:00am. This will not only give teens more time to sleep but will also sync with the natural time schedule of the average teen’s body.
Most teens don’t naturally wake up at 5:00 or 6:00am. So doing so harms their natural sleep schedule.
In fact, studies show that a teen isn’t fully awake and at his full mental awareness until about 10:00am.
Students can’t learn and perform properly if they are sleep-deprived and not fully awake.
Some schools have started listening and have pushed start times back. (Some originally started at 7:30 am.) But more schools need to make changes.
Should the Parrott day begin later?
When asked if he ever considered pushing back APA’s school day, Headmaster Dr. Bert Bright said, “We’ve had a good happy medium (at 8:15 am) between 7:00am/7:30am and later times.”
Dr. Bright believes a later start time will cause problems, such as students getting home in the dark or having difficulty planning sports and other activities with schools.
“If we were to go later, it would mean a shorter school day or getting home later at night because of all the extra-curricular activities that occur after school.” said Dr. Bright
The reality is that 8:15am might be fine for students living just a few minutes away from Parrott in Kinston, but Parrott attracts students from surrounding areas.
Students come from Kinston, Greenville, New Bern, Goldsboro, Jacksonville, and everything in between.
Dr. Bright has a solution for those that have to wake up early: “We … started the break time so instead of getting up and having to eat breakfast at home, they could get up, get ready, and leave and come to school and [then be assured that they would eat mid-morning at break time].”
Dr. Bright added that this “could save them time in the morning and [they could] get more sleep.”
Putting aside the health implications of skipping breakfast, that solution might work to add a few minutes of zzz’s for some students, but many students need more than that, especially high schoolers who are getting very little sleep with all the sports and activities in which they are involved – and don’t forget the homework calling their names.
Even one more hour of sleep would benefit everyone, especially those waking up at ungodly hours.
Hannah Steinberg, a junior, said, “I think school time should be moved an hour back.”
Like her, I live in Greenville and wake up at 6:15am and get 6 hours of sleep on average.
I’m sure many high schoolers can relate.
Some high schoolers are getting a moderate amount of sleep, but they are in the minority.
New student Thomas Paris, a junior, said, “[At my old school], I had to wake up at 6:30 and I usually went to bed around 10:30.”
If school started at 10:00am, many students would get 8 hours of sleep or more, which is getting closer to a healthy amount of sleep for the average teen.
Moving school start time to around 10:00am might require a lot of changes and take some getting used to, but, when it comes to teen health, the changes would be worth it.
Besides, our school should care about all of its students’ health.