Commentary: Too much, too early?
It’s the question that’s come up only recently, yet is important to teenager’s nation-wide: are students getting enough sleep? The answer to this question is no, and many officials are pointing to school’s early start-time as the culprit. Earlier school start times mean less overall sleep for the students. When school start times are pushed back, student grades have improved. This is, again, due to the increase in the amount of sleep students get.
While there are other factors that can lead to less sleep like homework or after school activities, when school start times are pushed back, it leads to a definite increase in the performance of students in class. This in itself is due to a couple of other reasons as well.
When school start times are pushed back, several other biological factors come into play. A body’s natural sleeping rhythms (circadian rhythms) govern when someone wakes up and falls asleep. When school times are pushed back, the time students have to wake up are also pushed back. Now students wake up at a time more that is better synched with their circadian rhythm. This means students are better rested and wake up more refreshed. When school start times are as they are now, students often wake up exhausted. This is because they have to wake up during the parts of their circadian rhythm where their body is in its deepest sleep.
Another biological factor that comes into play is when the body naturally wakes up. When school start times are pushed back, the body tends to naturally wake up at the time the students have to wake up to go to school. This means the students do not have to rely on alarm clocks to jar them out of sleep. This also leaves students feeling better rested and refreshed.
If school start times were pushed back, both schools and students would benefit. The more time students have to rest in the morning, the better they will perform during the day.
Video produced by: Justin Jackson, Sebastian Planas, and Gonzalo Londono.