By Lindsay Gottlieb
Who doesn’t love to stay up late on a summer night watching Netflix, texting friends, and doing anything else to avoid sleeping? This is because most students see summer as a three-month-long opportunity to relax and not stress over school. However, as back-to-school season approaches each year, students realize they have to begin regulating their sleeping schedules. Staying awake until three in the morning on school nights will lead to extreme fatigue during the school day, and a result of that, inefficient performance.
A 2015 study from the CDC reported that approximately 72% of American high school students do not get enough sleep on school nights. Parents suggest that the use of technology in bed is a main cause of this problem.
To fix this problem, many parents have limited screen time for their children, to make sure they get an adequate amount of sleep. Mental health disorders such as depression, anxiety, and bipolar disorder have been linked to sleep deprivation. Perhaps today’s teenagers do not understand how vital sleep is to the body and when this function begins to decline, things such as behavioral changes are the consequence.
On the search to collect accurate information relative to not only American high school students, but specifically Council Rock North students, I decided to interview one student from each grade level about their feelings on this matter. I asked them the following three questions:
“Since the transition from school to summer, I’ve gotten a lot less sleep. I find myself struggling to stay awake in first period. I don’t even go to bed at an unreasonable time for a student my age. For a student to get a full 8 hours of sleep while waking up at 6:30, they would have to go to bed at 1:30 at the latest. This is completely unreasonable for students ages 14-18. Most kids in this school are not sleeping before 11:30. I think that school should definitely start later. Not only would students be able to pay attention better in first period, but they also would be able to sleep in and get their full 8-10 hours of sleep.” -Ella Ciervo, Grade 9
“No, I have not experienced a decline in nightly sleep since the transition from summer to school. Yes, being well rested is important to me, so I manage my time so that I can get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Of course, there are exceptions to this. For instance, if I have an event or a lot of homework. I think that it is possible for students to manage their time wisely like I have. I play three sports, am an honor roll student, and the president of a club. I still have time for other activities while balancing all of these things. At the high school level, everyone should be able to do this. Why should we change school start times at this problem can be fixed by our student body? If we started later, we would also get out later, creating later nights. Often times, high schoolers will stay up even though they have school the next morning. That's their own fault, they aren't responsible enough to prioritize sleep and go to bed earlier. If we bend the start times, it will only hurt our children, because they won't learn how to manage time or get up and take action. When they have a real job, do you think they will move their start time because little Jimmy from CR isn't getting his sleep? No, that is pathetic. I am a firm believer that CRSD should maintain the early start time so that we can produce productive, working class citizens.” -Addison Adcock, Grade 10.
“Yes, definitely I am sleeping less. … I get about 5-6 hours of sleep each night. I believe that school should start at 8,even though it may push sports or activities back an hour or so. It will allow students to get more sleep and be more awake at school.” -Ava Angelakis, Grade 11.
“I got much better, fuller nights of sleep over the summer. … I have to wake up at 6am to get to school on time, so it’s very difficult to get 8-10 hours of sleep. Yes, I think [a later start time would] be great! There may be some conflict with elementary and middle school buses which is a con, but older students need more sleep. Students would be more alert and healthy, which is the most significant result of a later start time, even if it would take some work with other levels of school.” -Alexa Schnur, Grade 12.
After collecting these responses from my fellow students, I have concluded that 75% of my interviewees are in favor of a later start time to get more sleep. They believe this could potentially increase productivity in school, rather than falling asleep in first period. I have also drawn the conclusion that most students feel relaxed with a more flexible sleep schedule during the summer. Should Council Rock push back school start times in hopes of increased efficiency by both students and teachers? This has been a debatable topic for a long time, and will probably remain as so until a final decision is made by the School Board.