Teenagers Need More Sleep

By Hannah Miller

One by one, middle and high schoolers arrive, half awake, at the bus stop. The moon glows faintly in the distance, encompassed by a navy blue sky that is peppered with stars. Its 6:30 in the morning, a time when most teenagers would never think about being awake.

Most high school students savor the weekends, the two days of the week they get to sleep in; especially when they have to wake up before dawn every weekday in order to get to their bus stop on time. Teenagers need more sleep if they are to do their best in school.

“I hate that we have to wake up so early,” said Katherine Morris, a freshman at Loy Norrix. “The little kids wake up early and have tons of energy, but we don’t. I just don’t like it.”

According to the 2006 Sleep in America poll conducted by the National Sleep foundation, forty-five percent of teenagers are not getting enough sleep on school nights and thirty-one percent get borderline optimal amount of sleep; therefore, only twenty percent of teenagers are getting optimal sleep. Seventy-eight percent of teenagers said they needed at least eight hours of sleep to feel their best, but only fifty-one percent said they were actually getting at least eight hours of sleep.

I do not think it seems right that the elementary kids go to school over an hour later than the high school and middle school kids. You see little kids all the time who are up at seven in the morning, ready to go with energy to spare, but how often do you see an adolescent like that? Almost never. It would make more sense for the elementary school times and the high school times to switch, that way the teenagers could get the extra hours of sleep they need and crave.

The 2006 Sleep in America poll also states that at least once a week approximately a quarter of high-school students fall asleep during class. Twenty-two percent report falling asleep while doing homework and fourteen percent arrive late or miss the bus because of oversleeping.

It is important for teenagers to get enough sleep each night, especially if they want to get good grades and succeed in their high school career.

It would be easier for adolescents to get more sleep if school didn’t start so early. Most busses start their routes at approximately six thirty in the morning; many students have to take a shower, maybe blow dry their hair and choose what to wear for that day, and for a lot of people, that can take at least an hour, causing them to have to wake up very early, therefore getting much less sleep than they need.

There are benefits to starting school early. We get out of school earlier, so there is more time for students to do homework and for after-school jobs and activities. It also makes it easier on the buses because their schedules do not have to overlap.

Although there are advantages, they do not outweigh the disadvantages. It does not matter if students have time for after-school activities if they are going to be half asleep while they are working and driving. Fifteen percent of adolescents tenth through twelfth grade have driven drowsy at least once a week, endangering themselves and others.

Our sleep is not worth compromising just to make it easier for the buses, and certainly not when it is taking a toll on students grades, safety and overall performance.

High school students need more sleep. This would be much easier to achieve if school started later. Teens starting school later is a win-win situation for not only teenagers but also for families, teachers and everyone who interacts with them.