Why School Starting Ridiculously Early is NOT Good for Your Health

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The debate for later start times at school is not a new subject, but it’s something I find completely fascinating. Especially since this is something I experienced firsthand during my time at public school, I consider myself a fairly reliable participant.

I can’t remember off the top of my head what my elementary school start time was, but I believe it was 8:30 (or close to that). The older I got, the earlier I was forced to wake up for school. By the time I hit high school, I was getting up between 5:30-6:30 for my school day, five days a week. Being a natural night owl with a super busy ADHD mind, going to bed at midnight and getting up before sunrise did not fly well. 

I would say it’s pretty objective that most teenagers are not getting enough sleep. And sadly, the societal consensus for why this is the case is usually tied back to teenagers being “lazy.” But research is starting to prove differently: having an inability to get out of bed in the morning is more so related to human biology, not attitude.

There is a lot of in-depth scientific research pertaining to this, so I’ll be sure to source those links at the bottom of the page for you. However, the broad consensus of the research is the following: The adolescent body does not start to feel sleepy until around 10:45pm, and does not naturally wake up the following morning until about 8am. 

When I was in high school, choir and band were not considered part of the standard curriculum. If you wanted to learn an instrument or join the chorus, you had to show up at 7:24am for music class, and regular class hours began at 8am. Even worse, if you were in the select acapella class (which included myself), you would have to be at the school AT 7am for practice. My teacher was not very forgiving for this time- even if you made it at 7:05am, you were more or less ridiculed for not taking the class seriously. This is not an exaggeration. 

I was exhausted every. Single. Day. Until about ten in the morning on an average day, I couldn’t even focus on what my teachers were saying to me. My main focus was basically just keeping my eyes open and staring at the wall so I wouldn’t collapse in class. Sometimes, I would go hide in the spare band room to catch a few more winks, if I could.

It doesn’t matter what time I go to bed- if I get up at 6am, I’ll stay awake until after midnight the following night. If I wake up at 10am, I’ll stay awake until after midnight. If I stay awake ALL NIGHT, I’ll STAY UP UNTIL AFTER MIDNIGHT. It seriously does not matter what time I wake up- I always go to bed ridiculously late.

Being tired all the time certainly did not help my concentration, and it really shows now that my life is so different. Being in college, most of my classes don’t start until 11am, and I can sleep in relatively late because I live on campus. Waking up feeling refreshed and energized makes such a huge difference to my ability to focus, and I’m having a much better time being at college. When I’m here, I’m actually excited to wake up and learn for the day, while in high school, I dreaded everything about it. This was partially due to a number of different reasons, including high school just sucking in general, but my tiredness did play a pretty substantial role. 

As you can see from the source links I provided below, I’m not the only person trying to advocate for later school starting times. What do you think about young students getting up between 6-7am for classes? Do you think it’s an unhealthy practice, desperate for an update? I’d love to see high school start times get pushed later ahead within my lifetime.


Sources:

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/child-sleep-zzzs/201712/debate-continues-about-early-elementary-school-start-times

http://theconversation.com/why-teen-brains-need-a-later-school-start-time-65308

https://www.sleepfoundation.org/articles/teens-and-sleep

Coming up next: My First ThredUp Review

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