By Patrice L
“I get up so early that I leave my milk in the cupboard and my cereal in the fridge, and the next hour I’m taking a test,” said junior Jack Gibson.
Sleep deprivation is a huge problem, especially in teens. According to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s 2015 Youth Risk Behavior Survey, only 26.5 percent of high school students get the recommended eight to nine hours of sleep each night. This is due to high schools starting too early.
Sleep deprivation can cause many problems for teens. Mental health issues, issues in learning and behavior, substance use and abuse, and obesity are all problems that can arise from teens not getting enough sleep. Depression and anxiety go hand in hand with sleep deprivation. This causes teens to become dependant on anxiety or sleep medication. That can lead to use and abuse of marijuana and alcohol. Losing sleep can also have a long-term negative effect on a young person’s physical health, with poor sleep quality being linked to diabetes and obesity risk for teens.
So if all this research points out all the negative effects on high schools starting early, why do schools still do it? Money. It’s cost-effective to start high school so early because it allows schools to use fewer buses and save money on transportation. But is it worth to save on transportation when school performance is down, especially in cognitively engaging subjects like math.
Sleep supports brain processes that are critical to learning, memory and emotion regulation. At night, the brain reviews and consolidates information that’s acquired during the day, making that information easier to later retrieve.
“With the amount of sleep students get it’s impossible to focus for the next seven hours on school work,” said senior Summer Lines.
Some school districts have tried later starts and have found success in the later schedules. Ypsilanti, for example, delayed the first bell from 7:30 a.m. to 8:15 a.m. in the 2016-17 school year so teenagers could get more sleep. Later school start times will help teens get more sleep which will not only help with school performance, but mental and physical health as well.
“I fall asleep in most of my classes and I feel if we got up later that wouldn’t be a problem,” said sophomore Arielle Lytkowski.