Why Later School Start Times Would Benefit Students

Juliana Best, Editor

How much sleep do you get in a night? How about on a school night? The American Academy of Sleep Medicine and the Sleep Research Society recommends that teenagers get 8-10 hours of sleep each night. Unfortunately for most teens, reaching that number is almost impossible most nights of the week. This is partially due to early school start times, which can cause sleep deprivation in high school students and lead to a multitude of issues. The solution? Push back school start times to 8:30 a.m..


High school students have a lot of pressure on them. Whether it be for college, careers, relationships, or sports, society expects a lot from teens, more than it probably should. With all of this pressure, teens feel like they have to participate in lots of activities that take up most of their time, and give them almost no time to actually relax and rest their bodies and minds. In Fauquier County, after highschool students get out of school at 2:35, few of them actually go home and relax. Most have afternoon practice, a job, and homework on top of that. These activities take hours to complete, and teens don’t usually finish them until late at night. The problem is, the later they stay up, the more tired they’ll be when they wake up early for school the next day. The average wake up time to get to school by 7:30 is anywhere between 6-7 a.m., so to get at least eight hours of sleep a night, teens will have to go to bed around 10 to 11:00 at night. Though that may not seem very difficult from an outside perspective, almost no students actually get to bed at that time. 


It’s easy to blame teens for staying up late and being too tired to wake up in the morning. Some people say that high schoolers are lazy, but really it’s the opposite. For four years of their lives, high schoolers have to wake up too early in the morning for the majority of the year, go to school for at least seven hours, do more school work when they finally get home, maybe go play a sport or work a job, and then try to find time to relax and spend time with friends and family. Sounds like a lot right? Now think about how most teens are doing all of that on anywhere from 5-7 hours of sleep. It should be too much to ask of anyone, but it’s what society asks from many teenagers in America. Students would function so much better on just one hour of sleep every day. The important thing with start times isn’t what times students go to bed, but what time they wake up. The American Academy of Sleep Medicine recommends that middle and high schools start no earlier than 8:30 a.m.. The average high school start time in America is 8:00 a.m., and while that time is still too early, it’s still a half hour later than start times in Fauquier County. If school systems want students to pay better attention and do more in class, they should start pushing for later start times. 

One of the main arguments against later school start times is that there won’t be as much time in the day for everything after school if it ends an hour later. The thing about pushing back start times though, is that it would actually improve students’ performance and mood in those activities. If students are better rested, they would be happier and more willing to perform in things like sports and jobs. Even school performance would be improved with just one hour of sleep. If students go to bed at the same time they normally would with the original start time, but wake up an hour later, they will feel so much better.