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Should school start later?

By Bevan Roberts-Williams

The time that school starts has always been a debate between students and schools. Most teenagers don’t enjoy waking up for school or going to bed early. As a result, these students are tired throughout the school day. Is the lack of sleep impacting the student’s ability to work? Are students attentive during their first period? Should CVU change when school starts, or is the responsibility on the student?

According to John Hopkins medicine, teens need more sleep than the average adult, but school start times in the mornings can make the amount of sleep students get be less than sufficient. When teenagers experience sleep deprivation, the effects can certainly be detrimental to their grades. Teenagers may experience mentally ‘drifting off’ in class, a shortened attention span, and concentration difficulties.

A CVU senior, Molly Simons, has said that she is “barely” engaged in her first period class. Along with this, she has reported feeling especially tired on her longer days of school. Despite this, she does not wish the school day started later, stating “I like getting my work done sooner in the day.” On average, Molly sleeps 7 hours and 45 minutes, which is far less than the recommendation of 8-10 hours of sleep per night.

Adult bodies, and children before they hit puberty, have a natural sleep cycle that starts at 10-11pm when the brain essentially tells you to go to sleep. According to Johns Hopkins sleep expert Laura Sterni, teenagers experience a natural shift in circadian rhythm (a natural, internal process that regulates sleep). For teenagers, the need for sleep is delayed for about two hours, making falling asleep early more difficult for them than the average adult.

A CVU senior, Zach Zizza, sleeps about 5 hours a night, but must “consume enough caffeine” to keep him awake. He does not feel that he gets enough sleep, but it “doesn’t matter” to him when school starts in the morning, especially considering his first class starts at 11:35.

A teacher at CVU, Lacey Richards, says this about her first period class, “my students are significantly more tired in the morning, but by the fourth block they’re pretty out of it as well.” She also states that she has worked at CVU for 16 years, and the start time has improved significantly, saying it “makes sense for school to start later.” When asked if she thinks the start time should be later, she says “I think it’s pretty good where it is. I think if we started later it would begin to interfere with sports and other afterschool activities.” 

There is no clear solution for the sleep deprivation of students, because of their natural sleep cycle and the inability to start later. The lack of sleep affects both the students and the teachers, by hindering the students’ ability to focus during the earlier hours of the day.