Wake up call
Regardless of who you are, everyone has those days when you hear your alarm buzzing only to have you wake up and immediately say “nope” to not only school, but your day. If you’re like the majority of teenagers, you only got seven hours of sleep last night, according to the Nationwide Children’s Hospital. Everyone could use a little more sleep, especially on weekdays. Schools try to make a kid’s morning schedule as close to their parents’ or, in short, try to turn every student under the sun into some business executive with a grey suit and black tie. This isn’t the best case scenario for the students, as they can feel tired before the day begins.
According to recent studies held by Healthy Sleep at Harvard university, kids start to develop a different circadian rhythm, or natural cycle of sleep, during their adolescence. This causes a tendency to feel tired around an average hour of 11 p.m. This isn’t too bad until you realize we still need eight to nine hours of sleep, and that combined with an early morning could spell disaster. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) stated that 75 percent of middle schools and high schools in America start before 8:30 a.m. That is an early morning.
Let’s take KHS for example.
A student has to wake up at 6 a.m. to be ready to catch the bus at 7 a.m. that gets them to school at 7:30 a.m. so they can get to class on time at 7:50 a.m. This would then, combined with the 11 p.m. bedtime, mean a bus rider is given a seven hour sleeping period, which is an hour shorter than the minimal healthy amount. Not to be forgotten in this situation are the kids in the transfer student program, who typically have to wake up at 5 a.m. to catch their bus and get to school. In eight days, we, as students, are cut one entire night of rest and rejuvenation.
The unfortunate part is most people underestimate the severity of sleep deprivation. They believe that it’s just being drowsy. However, according to the American Sleep Organization, repeatedly getting less than the recommended eight or nine hours of sleep can lead to diabetes, slowed growth and a decrease in working memory and attention span. It can also cause depression and trigger weight gain or loss.
Illinois’ Township high school has already made the change. Pushing their start time back until 8:15 a.m. and ending the school day at 3:15 p.m. has allowed their students to achieve their eight hour sleep schedule. Along with the school start and finish time they made a change that declared all sport practices cannot exceed two hours and forty five minutes. This would put kids done with school entirely at 6 p.m. at the very latest. Giving them five hours to complete their homework if needed while still allowing them to get eight hours of sleep.
If KHS were to adopt a similar schedule, starting school at 8:50 a.m. instead of the current 7:50 a.m., that would give everyone one more hour of sleep that fits their schedule, in accordance with their circadian rhythm. So when a student falls asleep at 11 p.m. they would achieve a full eight hours of sleep. This would mean that school would then go until 3:40 p.m. and practices and games would be pushed back, but could have a time limit to counterbalance this. This is a price worth paying, as the point of this change isn’t to give an extra hour of free time to students, it’s to sync the school’s schedule with the kids’ sleeping schedule. This system would account for the adolescent circadian rhythm and give a teenager a schedule that would not only suit their needs, but make them a happier, healthier individual.