Should schools have a 8:30 start time?
May 16, 2022
Later start times sound like a good idea, yet they are not practical to students.
Some studies show that later start times may help students that deal with sleep deprivation, mental health issues, and will take the stress off of students’ shoulders. You would have to take full advantage of the opportunity, but the majority of students will not do so.
Mental illness is a chemical imbalance in the brain according to, mentealhealthchemicals. Getting an extra half hour of sleep won’t fix the brain’s thoughts and processes.
Most adults argue that getting an extra half an hour of sleep will help their kids’ mental health; this shows how unaware the public is of mental illness. If parents believe that an extra half an hour of sleep will affect their kid’s mental health, they need to get their facts checked.
For individuals that are mentally ill, it’s not as simple as getting an extra half an hour of sleep. Recovering from a mental illness is not that simple, and it is unfair to say that getting more sleep will fix your mental health.
Sleep and mental health are linked together, like two peas in a pod, according to harvardhealth. They are intertwined, and always will be.
People claim that if school started at 8:30 rather than 8:00 students would be less tired, and have fewer tardies, yet 62% of students in a P.V survey said they do not think they would have fewer tardies if school started later.
According to PV Principal John Puccio, who shared his concerns and opinions about later start times, explained that people are still tardy during delayed openings.
“If later start times were properly utilized, it would be great,” Puccio said. “Many people are still late to school during delayed openings.”
In reality, many students would go to bed an hour later, so they would be getting the same amount of sleep. If you go to bed at 1 a.m. and wake up at 7 a.m., or go to bed at 2 a.m. and wake up at 7:30 a.m., the later start time would not benefit you.
In a survey that consisted of PV students, an individual said, “The amount of homework would be the same, so by the time I finished school and started my homework, it would be later and then I would end up going to sleep at 1 a.m. or so, therefore, getting the same amount of sleep.”
I understand that some students would take advantage of the later start times, but most students go to bed at around 2 a.m., according to NYTimes, even though the recommended sleeping time is 11 p.m.
This standard is extremely unrealistic. Students have a family life, school, friends and other activities/religious groups, and it can be hard to juggle all of them at once. This causes students to stay up late.
As well, some students are in a vicious cycle of going to bed late, and a later start time will not fix this issue.
The P.V survey collected data that said 50% of students go to bed around midnight to 1 a.m.. Nobody is going to get a good night’s sleep if you are not getting the recommended 7-8 hours of sleep.
Later start times could actually decrease students’ mental health, and worsen their sleep schedule.
School would end later, yet the workload would be the same. This means that students would be up later than usual, and not gain any extra hours of sleep.
73% of students in a survey said that it would bother them if the school day was longer. A student said, “I think a later start time and later ending doesn’t change anything at all. If it’s the same schedule but at a later time everything is just getting pushed back. If you are tired at 8 a.m. because you stayed up until 1 a.m. doing homework, Now you will just be tired at 9 p.m. because you stayed up until 2 a.m. doing homework”
Going to bed at a late hour has a significant decrease in mental health. According to mentalhealthstudies, “…a lack of sleep is especially harmful to the consolidation of positive emotional content. This can influence mood and emotional reactivity and is tied to mental health disorders and their severity, including the risk of suicidal ideas or behaviors”
If your sleep schedule is not going to improve with the extra half an hour and mental illness could increase, is it really worth it? Of course, it would be nice to have an extra half an hour of sleep, but people need to weigh other factors such as transportation and extracurricular activities.
“Adjusting the schedule would be easy, yet the school days would be longer,” Puccio says. “Transportation would be hard and would affect children and parents.”
Individuals need to realize that just because students’ school days would be [hypothetically] changing that does not mean their parents/legal guardians’ schedule would be changing.
Some parents already have trouble getting their kids to school, and this would add more stress to some parents and students.
This could cause conflict in work schedules and transportation and would cause students to walk to school no matter the weather conditions.
School buses pick up children that live more than two miles from their school, so for the students that live closer than that, good luck walking!
Later start times are not a good idea, yet are often considered when studying students’ developmental and mental health.
“Anything that is brought to the table that could potentially help the students is something that would be looked at,” Puccio said. “There are positives and negatives to everything.”
As I sit here, writing this article, I am currently running on three hours of sleep.
Last night, I was stressed studying for a test, and in the back of my mind, the eight o’clock start time glared at me.
Coming into high school, I was given many warnings about the change in my sleep schedule, although I wasn’t prepared for the 2 a.m. sleep times happening weekly or the mounds of homework I would experience during junior year.
A bill was introduced to push back start times for school days until 8:30 a.m on Jan. 1, 2020.
The idea for a time change was created in order to better students’ mental health and wellness.
Waking up earlier for school can lead to less sleep for students which in turn leads to an increase in feelings of depression, suicidal thoughts, motor vehicle accidents, irritability, and fatigue. A lack of sleep, as well, has the potential to lead to a decline in academic performance and attendance at school.
“When people get more sleep at night and they’re more alert in the morning, they’re happier or at least more comfortable going to school. It cuts down on mental health issues,” Pascack Valleys’ Psychology teacher Ryan Walter said. “All the evidence seems to show pretty strongly [that 8:30 start times] are beneficial, so I don’t understand why we don’t do that.”
The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends teenagers between the ages of 13 to 18 get eight to 10 hours of sleep per night. However, an article was written by the CDC, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, reported that 93% of high schools and 83% of middle schools in the United States start before 8:30 am.
You might say, rather than push back start times, schools should prompt early bedtimes for students. However, that might not be entirely possible.
In comparison to adults and children, teenagers’ melatonin levels rise two hours later, creating a sleep phase delay that pushes students’ bedtimes later. However, the early wake-up times don’t accommodate for this, creating a messed-up sleep schedule during the school week.
Although some people see the benefits of pushing back the start times, obstacles have presented themselves such as transportation and students’ participation in afterschool programs.
However, an easy solution can be presented for that problem. A requirement for all schools in New Jersey to push back start times effectively eliminates these problems.
Walter believes that in tandem with start times being pushed back, there also needs to be more education on how sleep affects teens both teenagers and adults.
“Sleep is the forgotten part of health,” Walter said. “Everyone thinks about physical health, mental health, exercise, and nutrition. But sleep always gets forgotten about. I think that building a program on the state level of awareness and education would make everybody healthier and happier.”
Sleep is hard to come by for high school students. We are forced into creating unreasonable wake-up times, messing with our brains; however, most of us now believe that sleep deprivation is normal.
In order to improve students’ overall well-being, school start times need to be pushed back to at least 8:30 a.m. In addition, more education on sleep for both students and teachers must be implemented into the curriculum in order to stress the importance of sleep and its overall effect on a student’s state of living.