A later school start could improve focus, brain function, make students happier


Photo courtesy Kappanonline.org

The percentage of students sleeping at least eight hours on school nights based on school start time.

The Culture of Health Blog shares that research suggests more sleep for teens could significantly benefit their health and academics. Nearly half of U.S. high schools that begin classes before 8 a.m. have teenagers who have not received the eight hours of sleep that they need. Sleep patterns and insufficient sleep often affect a range of physical and mental health conditions. 

Sophomore Tyler Cosgrove believes that school should start at 9 a.m. every day, not just when virtual. Cosgrove said, “It would be great because I would be able to have more time to sleep in.”

Cosgrove feels this would benefit him because he would not be tired at school. “I would not be tired in my first couple periods therefore I could pay attention better.”

Cosgrove has heard students talk about this with one another, and he believes one way students could allow their voices to be heard is by “going to the MCPS council meeting or talking to the principal so then they could talk to their boss about it.”

Cosgrove usually goes to sleep around 12:30 a.m., and usually does not get the full eight hours of sleep an adolescent needs. “I get around six or seven hours of sleep.”

Cosgrove believes starting school later would improve his grades and focus. “People will be more aware and pay attention better if school starts later.”

Nick Hitchens, class of 2023 administrator, has realistic views on whether school should remain at its same time or for it to start later at 9 a.m.. “I am a firm supporter of a later start and teens needing sleep and it would be nice but I do not think it is realistic,” Hitchens said.

The start time of schools was made by the superintendent and other people at that level. The timing of school has to do with the end time and extracurriculars after school. Hitchens said, “If we started school later we would have to end later because there are certain times for each activity.” 

Students usually never get eight hours of sleep but Hitchens said, “that is important and does factor in but I believe it would just shift and there would not be a change, students would still stay up later and it would all get pushed back.”

Hitchens assumes starting school later will improve tardiness, students grades and focus. Hitchens said, “I know for sure that now that school starts later there are less accidents since it is now light out in the winter when usually we are driving to school and it’s still dark out.”

Sophomore Zach Haledjian thinks school should start at 9 a.m.. “Students stay up late doing homework after their extracurriculars and it is hard to get a good amount of sleep if you then have to wake up at 6 a.m.,” Haledjian said.

Haledjian rarely gets a full eight hours of sleep. “I usually go to sleep around 1 a.m. which is pretty bad,” Haledjian said.