Why school should start later

Emma Puckett, Staff Writer

It’s early in the morning and the teen who is peacefully sleeping in bed wakes up sluggishly, wishing for another half hour of sleep. This is the harsh reality for some high school students in our district, who start school at one of the earliest start times in the state of Illinois.

Many of us feel like we already don’t get enough sleep; waking up before 6:00 a.m. or earlier to get ready for a day of learning is possible but is not necessarily the best option for us.

High schools in our district need to start later.

Most schools in the nation start around 8:30 a.m., but the CDC recommends 8:30 a.m. as the earliest start time for adolescents. The majority of the school districts in our area begin around between 8 to 8:30, with Aurora at 8:27 a.m., Joliet at 8:30 a.m., and Minooka Central at 8:00 a.m. The schools around us who start before 8:00 a.m. do not even come close to our 7:05 a.m. high school start time.

But why exactly is this such a big deal? What happens when adolescents begin their day before the sun comes up? According to research, many negative consequences can occur.

A lack of sleep can turn into stress, which may even lead to more sleep loss. According to Stanford University, sleep deprivation increases the chances that teens will suffer from poor concentration, poor grades, anxiety, depression, driving accidents, and even thoughts of suicide.

When a person gets a restful night of sleep, the mind becomes less distracted. Students tend to space out less and will sleep less in class, according to the CDC. If the teens are able to pay attention more, it is likely they will remember what is taught throughout the day.

Also, if teens are less distracted and tired, that means no more falling asleep at the wheel. That can mean fewer car crashes, injuries and fatalities, as stated by Healthline.

There are valid reasons why many districts, including 202, have early start times, including the effort to make bus routes efficient for high school, middle school, and elementary school students. The budget must be a major concern, and we understand.

However, why are the high schools the first to start their day and the elementary schools the last? Is there a better option that would allow us to all get a better night’s sleep? After all, countless studies by the Sleep Foundation indicate high schoolers need the most sleep out of all age groups.

Imagine if all sleepy teenagers could get just a little bit more sleep. The positive change in families, communities and learning could be endless.