Late Start

Studies show that there would be more benefits than just sleeping in if high school started at a later time.  West High students agree and many would love a 9:00 a.m. start time.

Most teens do not get enough sleep, normally because they have busy schedules or they spend too much time texting, chatting on the computer with friends, tweeting, etc. until the wee hours of the morning. Some have too much homework, while other teens try to go to sleep early, but sleep problems prevent them from doing so.

Varsity basketball and football player Jhayde Zamora has ideas about why students don’t get enough sleep. “I personally think because students stay up late then sleep in until midday on the weekends.”

It is proven that hormonal changes in teenagers trigger them to stay up later at night and wake up later than younger children and adults. When asking ASD teacher Cycelia McMorris about the pro’s of starting high school later she replied, “ I think high schoolers need the extra sleep… it would make them more focused.”

Teens need about nine hours of sleep every night to function best. For some, eight and a half hours is enough. Most teens do not get enough sleep — one study found that only 15 percent reported sleeping , eight and a half hours on school nights. When teens do not get the recommended amount of sleep it limits their ability for that day.  It is very difficult to get the right amount of sleep when you have sports after school, homework, jobs, etc.

The National Sleep Foundation, a nonprofit based in Washington, D.C., states that when teens lack their sleep requirement the students are unable to concentrate, study, and work effectively. They can also experience emotional problems, like depression. If teens got their needed amount of sleep they would be able to focus more which would make school a happier and better environment for everyone as Mrs. McMorris said, “This would make school a more positive environment for everyone.”

One way for teens to get more sleep is to start school later. Most high school students use an alarm clock or a parent to wake them on school days. They are like zombies getting ready for school. “I personally find it hard to be alert and pay attention in first hour and even second sometimes,” says Jhayde. When teens are sleep deprived, they are sleepy all day and cannot do their best, not only that they are grumpy and stubborn.

Schools that have set later bell times find that students do not go to bed later, but get one hour more of sleep per school night, which means five hours more per week. This may not seem like a lot, but it really is.

Enrollment and attendance improve and students are more likely to be on time when school starts. According to Mrs. McMorris, “Middle school should be from 7:30- 2, elementary should be from 8:15-2:45 and high school should start at 9 and end at 3:30. I think it would be beneficial for everyone- parents, students, and staff members.”

The biggest problem about starting high school later would be with parents and their concerns about how the changes would affect bus routes, after-school activities, part-time jobs, and safety of younger children outside on dark winter mornings.  When asking Mrs. McMorris what the biggest problem would be she replied, “ The con’s of starting school later would be with our elementary kiddos.”