Later start times will benefit students

Christine Chappelle, Photography Editor

With days getting shorter and short, students are waking up at darker and darker hours. With the lack of light comes the greater difficulty of dragging yourself out of bed. Parents tell us to not stay up late, but that is only part of the problem. The teenage brain is not awake until 8:30 am, so trying to learn at 7:45 is not only difficult, it is against our programming. The district needs to begin reevaluating the school schedule because it works against students rather than for them.

One of the main arguments presented against later starts is the decrease in time for sports at night, and although exercise is important to good health, sleep is the most important.

When you are driving to school in November and it seems like it is the middle of the night, you know there is something wrong. If high school students are expected to get up at six when they are working on homework until ten or midnight each night should be given 30 minute rest periods after lunch each day when there is a natural lull in brain activity.

Driving while tired is just as dangerous as driving under the influence, and students’ homework is not completed as thoroughly when all students are focused on is going to bed from the late night before. Above all, sleep deprivation is bad for students’ health and raises the risk of heart disease, high blood pressure, strokes, and diabetes.

High schools in the greater Minneapolis region are testing the later start time and according to the University of Minnesota, students are happier, attendance and test scores have increased, substance abuse, symptoms of depression, and the consumption of caffeinated beverages has decreased.

As this experiment in Minnesota begins to get more recognition, I believe school districts across the country will start changing their start times for the benefit of the students as students—not as athletes.