Opinion: We Need to Sleep

A delay to school's start time might dig into activities, but rest should be a priority.

Ever since I can remember, I have dreaded getting out of bed in the morning, as many do. However, (in most cases), it isn’t because of a lack of motivation or interest in starting my day, but rather due to a lack of sleep. I chronically press snooze on my alarm and, more often than not, find myself relying on the consumption of coffee in order to function. This is certainly not a healthy habit for a teenager such as myself but unfortunately, there is not much I can do about it.

The schools, on the other hand, wield much of the power to make a change. Simply put, classes should start later so students are able to get a reasonable amount of sleep before taking on the day. It just makes sense – we spend 6.5 hours working hard in school, five days a week. Following this, many students have extracurriculars to participate in every day that take up another few hours. Then, after an exhausting day, we must make time to complete our homework.  I always hear parents say, “try to go to sleep earlier.” Trust me, if I could, I would. While this statement is clearly meant to help, it just serves as a reminder that we truly don’t have that option in most cases. Just leaving out the great deal of homework that needs to be done on a daily basis, teenagers are more inclined to go to bed later and wake up later due to a shift in our biological rhythms.

Students across the country are deprived of rest, and it shows in their day-to-day lives. Sleep deprivation has a myriad of negative effects, some even long-term, including “an inability to concentrate, poor grades, drowsy-driving incidents, anxiety, depression, thoughts of suicide and even suicide attempts,” according to Standford Medicine.

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However, there is hope for a better tomorrow. That is, if schools take initiative and put the well-being of their students first. We shouldn’t have to suffer or sacrifice our mental health by trying to meet a deadline. I think the school day should start two hours later, so students can recharge in a healthy way and meet the physician recommended 8-10 hours of sleep necessary.   

It is understandable that some coaches may oppose this stance, as the extra two hours would eat into their practice time, but it is extremely important to remember the benefits. That extra sleep could save student-athletes a lot of pain. In fact, research shows that kids who get less than 8 hours of sleep are much more likely to get injured. It makes sense as a lack of sleep can cause clumsiness, drowsiness, and overall poor athletic performance.

If the school day began 2 hours later, I guarantee students would be in much better spirits, and academic as well as athletic performance would surely improve. We, as a society, need to remember what is most important. Teenagers are put under enough stress as it is, so there would certainly be comfort in knowing that sleep, or lack thereof, would not be a contributing factor.