Later School Starts

NICOLE FERNANDEZ

Staff Writer

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It’s true that for most, waking up to start a day of school can seem like the most difficult chore. Whether up the night before trying to finish the never-ending homework or studying for a test on a subject that you still have no idea about, it seems like there is never enough sleep. When late start rolls around, that hour of extra sleep seems to mean so much more. Although many of us do not find many advantages of getting more sleep, the truth is, more sleep can actually have its benefits.

Three years ago, a new study was initiated by the University of Minnesota to determine if later school starts could have more benefits than just the extra hour of sleep. The study tested 9,000 high school teenagers across Minnesota, Colorado, and Wyoming. With 8:55 being the latest of all school starts, school began adding about an hour to their original starting times, and within months, the results showed the school and its students had improved greatly.

Not only was there an increase in attendance, but as a result there were higher test scores and grades, tardiness decreased, students were getting the suggested amount of at least eight hours of sleep, and substance and alcohol abuse went down. Students were feeling more prepared for the day, less rushed, and were ready to take on the challenges of the day to come. This was mainly due to the fact that students were well-rested. Before the change in late starts, students were not getting the amount of sleep teens are supposed to be getting, eight to nine hours a night. The study found that 66 percent of high school students, with the late start, were getting the recommended amount of sleep. However when school started at its usual time, only 34 percent of students were getting the recommended amount of sleep.

Although Mr. Thrasher disagrees and says that he has not noticed any improvements in the students judging from how students act during a regular day compared to late start, other schools would disagree. The most notable improvement in schools was the decrease in teen car crashes. Some high schools, like Jackson Hole High in Wyoming, saw up to a 70 percent decrease in teen accidents. With teens being less sleep-deprived, it gives them more time to get ready, and not be in such a rush, which is generally what leads them to get in a car accident, because they are not aware of surroundings and are half of asleep.

Due to students having more sleep and less stressful mornings, students are gradually getting the recommended amount of sleep and are functioning better in class. And even though we do not have the opportunity of having late start every day, we can still attempt to sleep the recommended hours of sleep. 

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