Almost every teen struggles with getting up for school, especially when school starts early. This is commonly from lack of sleep. Studies have shown early school start times can have drastic effects on students, including an increased risk of various mental health problems, sleep deprivation, and more. Later start times could improve an abundance of areas for teens, especially school performance.
“I think starting school later would be a good thing for students, especially me personally. Starting so early takes its toll. I feel like we would all be happier and even healthier if school started at least just a little later,” sophomore Emily Smelser said.
A study conducted by the University of Rochester Medical Center showed teens going to schools that start before 8:30 a.m. are more likely to experience anxiety and depression due to “compromised sleep quality.” Ninety-three percent of high schools and 83% of middle schools in the United States start before 8:30 a.m..
Health risks are also common with early start times and lack of sleep. Some of these health risks are obesity, the consumption of illegal substances, and poor academic performance.
The Start School Later Healthy Hours organization has talked about many benefits from starting school later. This includes compelling evidence that has shown starting school before sunrise messes with the internal clock of “young people,” ages 12-25. Starting school so early is clearly linked to major sleep deprivation but also physical, psychological, and/or educational issues. No research has shown benefits for schools requiring a starting time before 8 a.m..
“It’s kind of insane how many negative effects there are regarding school starting early, and the type of negative effects. I didn’t think there would be as many as there are,” Smelser said.
Being aware of the benefits and consequences of school start times is very important for everyone. Later start times can make all the difference in the world and even make teens happier, literally.