Today, our education system suffers from a multitude of problems. As a society we are constantly working to improve our faults, yet the solution has been under our nose all along: delay the start time for school.
I can assume that most people are aware that teenagers are not getting enough sleep. However, I am certain that people don’t know the severity of the problem. Today, a whopping two out of three high schoolers get less than seven hours of sleep per night, which is two hours less than the CDC’s recommendation.
In return, this will leave 66% of our successors with a higher risk of heart disease, heart failure, heart attack, irregular heartbeat, high blood pressure, strokes and diabetes. This also leaves them more prone to obesity and five times more likely to be depressed. This is just a few issues that sleep deprivation can cause.
The attempts to fix this major issue have all proved to be futile. The solutions offered are unrealistic and unachievable. These solutions include going to sleep earlier, which is an absurd idea. Especially when you remember that the students who are most likely to be sleep deprived are college bound students. These students are involved in extracurricular activities and are enrolled in AP classes, which consume a boatload of time.
For students with such busy schedules, the last thing they want is to go to sleep knowing that they won’t get enough sleep and that they will need to repeat this process again until the weekend. The result of this a constant jet lag and one that is exacerbated by sleeping in on the weekends.
The worst part of this problem would be if many districts do not take any steps to solve this problem due to the following reason. If high schools start later it would also exit at a later time. Specifically, the time when middle school exits. This would create a traffic jam and inconvenience the parents and bus drivers. However, it is not about the convenience of parents or bus drivers, it is about the health and welfare of students.
To illustrate my point some studies have shown that schools with healthier start times notice an increase in attendance, test scores and GPAs. They didn’t only notice academic improvement, car crashes went down by as much as 70% and self-reported depression rates decreased.