Are Later Start Times Harmful or Helpful?
A teen’s life is busy with school, sports, homework and a variety of other interests and responsibilities. Add to that a social life, and there is little time for eating, not to mention sleeping.
“Almost 70 percent of teens are not getting the recommended hours of sleep.” – CDC Study.
Unfortunately, school start times may play a large role in this problem. Delaying Camas high school start times by one hour would not only lead to better sleep but would also improve overall academic performance.
Adolescents need on average eight to nine hours of sleep each night, but early wake times after late nights of homework and other activities hinder students from obtaining the needed amount of rest. In fact, their bodies are biologically apt to fall asleep and wake up later than younger children and adults.
A study by Dr. Mary A. Carskadon finds, “Melatonin secretion occurs at a later time in adolescents as they mature thus, it is difficult for them to go to sleep earlier at night.” It is only natural for students to be tired in the mornings especially if school start times force them to get up too early.
Fatigued students cannot focus or concentrate on the lessons, thus often displaying disruptive behavior. These behaviors can cause test scores to drop and lead to more disciplinary actions.
In addition, the National Sleep Foundation found that “sleep deprivation” also limits a student’s ability to, “Cope with stress [and] retain information,” and even, “lower overall performance in everything from academics to athletics.”
Responses at Home:
In response to such issues, the Evergreen School District is implementing later start times this year. Five high schools in the district are starting one hour later than last year. They hope that changing start times, “Could help the district improve its 83.4 percent on-time graduation rate.” While there is little information to show the actual effect thus far, Camas can monitor Evergreen’s progress to help implement its own changes for the future.
Two major reasons why our district may oppose later start times boil down to bus routes and after-school activities. Since the middle school and high school share the same bus schedule, altering the high school start time would cause several transportation issues.
This problem is easily adjusted by switching bus schedules for both schools with the elementary schools. Since elementary-aged students naturally wake earlier, this schedule supports their sleep patterns as well. While later release times effect practice schedules, lighting the fields extends practice times into the evening.
According to Carskadon, “The primary focus of education is to maximize human potential.” The district should work to resolve whatever issues may stand in the way of later start times for the greater good of the student body. The benefits of later start times to Camas students far outweigh the issues that can arise.