Sleep Deprivation

I remember how a little over a year ago (when I was in high school) I had to wake up at 5:30 am to get ready and get to school on time. I also remember going to sleep around 1 or 2 o’clock in the morning on most nights, usually finishing class projects. Other times it was because I simply wasn’t tired, so I stayed up watching TV or went online. I feel that my high school routine resembles that of an average high school student today.

During the summer of 2007, I took a debate class at the Crimson Summer Academy program at Harvard University. In that class, I had to debate whether or not high school start times should be later. Today, I came across an article on the same topic. I strongly believe that high schools shouldn’t start school so early. I’m going to be a sophomore in college, so, clearly, I don’t believe this because it will help me. Rather, I believe it because as I already mentioned, I remember going to sleep really late at night and waking up only a couple of hours later.

The article Sleep Deprivation May Be Undermining Teen Health in “Monitor on Psychology” mentions that researchers have come to the conclusion that “early high-school start times, increasingly common, are tantamount to abuse.” So basically, the people who studied this understand that it’s cruel to make teens wake up extremely early to start school. I mean if you sit down and think about it, there’s no logic to starting school early. We go to school to become educated. In order to learn, we need to pay attention, participate, take notes etc. Who is really that attentive at 7 in the morning, especially after going to sleep at 1 or 2 am? When you’re that tired, who really cares about anything the teacher is talking about? Even the most interesting topics may seem boring.

One of the researchers said that the studies proved to her that “these kids may be up and at school at 8:30, but their brains are back on the pillow at home.” I definitely think that this researcher is right. Kids are at school physically, but mentally they aren’t. They are tired and not paying attention in class. This leads to poor performance in school.

A lot of adults say that kids should go to sleep earlier. However, studies have proved that “adolescents experience a phase shift during puberty, falling asleep later at night than younger children.” Biologically, teens are wired to fall asleep at a later time than younger children and schools are forcing them to wake up early, so they are becoming sleep deprived. I agree with the findings of these studies and believe that a good solution to the sleep deprivation problem is to push back high school start times. This will result in better school performance and more rested and active teens.