Students at Notre Dame Prep struggle with getting enough sleep every night, which can be attributed to having to wake up at 6:00 am every morning. If school start times were to be pushed from 7:40 am to 8:40 am, students could get an extra hour of sleep, making them feel far more awake for the school day ahead.
Sleep deprivation is so common among high school students that it has simply become a reality for most. In fact, according to a Stanford study, 87% of high school students are sleep deprived. With numbers this high, it is clear that a change is necessary.
High schools across the country need to take the sleep deprivation epidemic seriously because functioning on a lack of sleep can be dangerous for students, particularly for those who drive to school. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), sleep-deprived drivers caused 72,000 car accidents in 2013, leading to 44,000 injuries and 800 deaths. It is unsafe for students to be driving to school while sleep deprived, but many have no other method of transporting themselves to school.
Apart from sleep deprivation having short-term dangers, lack of sleep has hazardous long-term effects as well. According to WebMD, sleep deprivation can lead to high blood pressure, heart attack/heart failure, obesity, as well as an increase in stress. It is the role of schools to support the health of students, so they can start by helping them get enough sleep each day.
Although the argument can be made that if students are not getting enough sleep, they should just go to sleep earlier, research does not back up this claim. According to the National Sleep Foundation, “Biological sleep patterns shift toward later times for both sleeping and waking during adolescence — meaning it is natural to not be able to fall asleep before 11:00 pm… Teens need about 8 to 10 hours of sleep each night to function best.”
For teenagers to get eight hours of sleep while going to sleep at 11:00 pm every night, they would need to wake up no earlier than 7:00 am. With school starting as early as it does, it would be impossible for most students to rise this late while still being on time. However, if students didn’t need to be present until 8:40 am, this sleep schedule would work perfectly.
Being well-rested is a critical element to succeeding in school, so it is important that schools do everything they can to ensure that students are staying healthy and getting enough sleep. By pushing start times back an hour, students can be guaranteed to have a better high school experience.